AS IT TURNS OUT, one kiss can change the world. Unbelievable, I know.
The Adjustment Bureau is a mind-warped romance starring Matt Damon as David Norris, formerly America's youngest congressman, now its youngest losing senatorial candidate. On the night of his defeat, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) when they hide out in the same men's room. Sparks fly, but circumstances intervene, and the two are separated... only to run into each other on a bus weeks later. It's kismet!
Except this second meeting wasn't supposed to happen. A man in a fedora (Anthony Mackie) was supposed to waylay David and give his colleagues time to build a different path for him. The screw-up means David discovers the secret of the universe: Our lives are already written, and there are a bunch of men with hats who make it their business to ensure we don't screw it all up.
The Adjustment Bureau is a fun surprise, especially since writer/director George Nolfi (a scribe on The Bourne Ultimatum) built his kiss-kiss, chase-chase movie from an unlikely toolbox: a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dick. Some of Dick's style survives: There are doorways that traverse space and time, and magical Moleskines that show the map of human existence. There are also good brain-cops (Mad Men's John Slattery, cool as always) and bad brain-cops (Terence Stamp, scary as always), both of whom want to stop this relationship cold.
What not even ol' weirdy Dick could've ever imagined, though, is that The Adjustment Bureau is one of the best cinematic romances in a good long while. It's full of goopy declarations of endless adoration and enough longing looks to rival Edward and Bella, yet it somehow never gets too icky sweet. Maybe it's all the nonsense about mind wipes and charmed fedoras that makes everything so easy to swallow. If you can buy mystic overlords altering our every move, a love to last a lifetime no longer seems so farfetched.
So, kiss, handsome Matt and pretty Emily! Kiss and restore free will to all mankind! To quote another geeky sci-fi freethinker: I want to believe.