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The Adjustment Bureau

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The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Nolfi
Produced by George Nolfi
Chris Moore
Michael Hackett
Bill Carraro
Isa Dick Hackett
Joel Viertel
Screenplay by George Nolfi
Based on "Adjustment Team
by Philip K. Dick
Starring Matt Damon
Emily Blunt
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography John Toll
Edited by Jay Rabinowitz
Media Rights Capital
Gambit Pictures
Electric Shepherd Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 14, 2011 (2011-02-14) (Ziegfeld Theatre)
  • March 4, 2011 (2011-03-04) (United States)
Running time 99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50.2 million[1][2]
Box office $127,869,379[1]

The Adjustment Bureau is a 2011 American Matt Damon[4] and Emily Blunt.[5] The cast also includes Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly, and Terence Stamp.[6][7]


In 2006, Brooklyn Congressman David Norris unsuccessfully runs for the United States Senate. While rehearsing his concession speech, David meets Elise Sellas, and they share a passionate kiss, though he does not get her name. Inspired by her, David delivers an unusually candid speech that is well-received, making him a favorite for the 2010 Senate race.

A month later, David prepares for a new job. At Madison Square Park, near David's home, a man named Harry Mitchell receives an assignment from Richardson, his boss: ensure David spills coffee on his shirt by 7:05 AM so he misses his bus. Mitchell falls asleep and misses David, who encounters Elise again on the bus and gets her phone number. David arrives at work to find his friend Charlie Traynor frozen in time and being examined by unfamiliar men in suits. David attempts to escape, but is incapacitated and taken to a warehouse. Richardson explains he and his men are from the "Adjustment Bureau". They ensure people's lives proceed as determined by "the Plan", a complex document Richardson attributes to "the Chairman".[8][9] The Bureau confiscates and destroys the note that contains Elise's phone number, and David is warned that if he ever reveals the existence of the Bureau to anyone else, he will be "reset"—akin to being lobotomized—and that he is not meant to meet Elise again.

Three years later, after boarding a bus, David encounters Elise; he tells her he had spent three years riding that bus to work, hoping to see her again. He learns that she dances for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. The Bureau tries to stop him from renewing their relationship by altering their schedules. David races across town, fighting the Bureau's abilities to "control his choices" to ensure he will meet Elise. During the chase the Bureau uses ordinary doorways to travel instantly to locations many blocks away. Senior official Thompson takes over David's adjustment and takes him to the warehouse, where David argues he has the right to choose his own path.

Thompson says humanity received free will after the height of the Roman Empire, but then brought the Dark Ages upon itself. The Bureau took control again after five centuries of barbarism with no signs of ending, and created the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the scientific revolution, but when free will was once again granted in 1910 it resulted in World War I, the Great Depression, Fascism, and the Holocaust, again forcing the Bureau to retake control. Thompson implies that without Elise's influence David might become President of the United States and benefit the world, and warns that if he stays with her, he will ruin both of their futures. Thompson causes Elise to sprain her ankle at a performance to demonstrate his power, and David abandons her at the hospital to save them from the fate Thompson described.

Eleven months later, Charlie tells David of Elise's imminent wedding as he campaigns again. Harry contacts David via secret meetings in the rain or near water, which prevents the Bureau from tracking them. Harry reveals that Thompson exaggerated the negative consequences of David and Elise's relationship, and teaches David how to use doors to teleport, and evade the Bureau's adjustments. Just before the wedding David reaches Elise, reveals the Bureau's existence to her, and shows her how he travels through doors. The Bureau pursues them across New York City. David decides to find the Chairman to end the chase; Elise wavers briefly, but accompanies David. They enter the Bureau's offices with the agents in persuit.

David and Elise find themselves trapped and surrounded on the observation deck of the GE Building. They mutually declare their love and kiss before David can be reset. When they let go of each other, the Bureau members have gone. Thompson appears but is interrupted by Harry, who shows him a revised Plan from the Chairman: one that is blank starting with the current moment. After commending them for their devotion to each other, Harry tells the couple they are free to leave. The film concludes with David and Elise walking through the streets, as Harry speculates that the Chairman's goal may be to prepare humanity so it can write its own "Plans".


Jon Stewart, Dan Bazile,[10] Chuck Scarborough, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Betty Liu, Jesse Jackson, Wolf Blitzer, and Michael Bloomberg all have cameos as themselves.


In early drafts, the character Norris was changed from a real-estate salesman, as in the short story, to an up-and-coming politician.[11]

Media Rights Capital funded the film and then auctioned it to distributors, with Universal Studios putting in the winning bid for $62 million.[2][5][12] Variety reported Damon's involvement on February 24, 2009,[4] and Blunt's on July 14, 2009.[5] The film was released on March 4, 2011.[13]

Nolfi worked with John Toll as his cinematographer. Shots were planned in advance with storyboards, but changed often during shooting to fit the conditions of the day. The visual plan for the film was to keep the camerawork smooth using a dolly or crane and have controlled formal shots when the Adjustment Bureau was in full control, with things becoming more loose and using hand-held cameras when the story becomes less controlled.[14]

The final scene on the "Top of the Rock" rooftop observation deck of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center was filmed four months after the rest of the film had completed shooting and has a different ending from the original.[15]

Original ending

According to Nolfi there was an alternative ending that featured the chairman:[16]

[I]nitially I was going to show the chairman. The chairman was going to be in female form, too. Ultimately, while making the movie, I realized how important it was going to be for people to put their own beliefs in the end and not foreclose that. I don’t think the scene would have foreclosed peoples' [sic] beliefs, but the more I could hint at it and the less explicit I could be about it, it wasn’t enough to hint about it in the dialog and have an actual person there acting it. I just had to not show the chairman, so I ended up not going that way.

More than two years later, another explanation was made public. In her 2013 memoir,[17] Iranian American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, the woman who portrayed the Chairman in the original ending, said Nolfi gave her an explanation that differs from what he had said in 2011, upon the film's release; he blamed Universal Pictures for the change to the ending:[18]

I loved that role. As actors, we all know we're at the mercy of the editing table, but not to this extent, never had I experienced it. The director, George Nolfi, decided I should play God. Everything went great until I got a call from the director who was asking to have lunch with me. He was on the verge of crying. He said, the distribution company believes that you cannot play this role.

Religious themes

Some reviewers identified [25]


The film had its world premiere on February 14, 2011, at the [26]


The score was composed by Thomas Newman, with two songs by Richard Ashcroft ("Future's Bright" for the opening sequence; "Are You Ready?" for the closing credits).

Home media

The Adjustment Bureau was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on June 21, 2011.[27] The film was the top selling release for its opening week.[28]


Critical response

Critics generally gave the film positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 72% based on 237 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6 out of 10.[29] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three out of four stars, describing it as "a smart and good movie that could have been a great one, if it had been a little more daring. I suspect the filmmakers were reluctant to follow its implications too far."[30]The New York Times called the film "a fast, sure film about finding and keeping love across time and space . . . [that] has brightened the season with a witty mix of science-fiction metaphysics and old-fashioned romance."[23]

Box office

In its opening weekend in the United States (March 4–6, 2011), The Adjustment Bureau grossed $21,157,730, which was the second most of any film that weekend, behind Rango. Its total worldwide gross is $127,869,379 as of December 18, 2011.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "The Adjustment Bureau". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 6, 2011.
  2. ^ a b The Adjustment Bureau at The Numbers.
  3. ^ "Damon Set For The Adjustment Bureau".  
  4. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (February 24, 2009). "Studios weigh star packages".  
  5. ^ a b c Fleming, Michael (July 14, 2009). "'"Emily Blunt boards 'Bureau.  
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 12, 2009). "'"Ruivivar added to 'Adjustment Bureau.  
  7. ^ Graser, Marc (August 27, 2009). "Thesp makes 'Adjustment' for Universal".  
  8. ^ a b "‘Adjustment Bureau’: The surreal feels real".  
  9. ^ a b "Matt Damon Defies God’s Insidious Bureaucracy in The Adjustment Bureau".  
  10. ^ "Hey, that's Dan Bazile up on the silver screen!". All Over Albany. March 3, 2011. Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  11. ^ McCarthy, Steve Todd (February 25, 2011). """Movie review: "The Adjustment Bureau. Reuters. 
  12. ^ Kaufman, Amy (March 3, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Rango' expected to shoot down the competition".  
  13. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  14. ^ Weintraub, Steve (February 26, 2011). "Writer-Director George Nolfi Exclusive Interview The Adjustment Bureau". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ Williams, Ileana (March 9, 2011). "Ileana’s Movie Review: The Adjustment Bureau". Retrieved April 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ Giroux, Jack (March 3, 2011). "Interview: George Nolfi Talks ‘The Adjustment Bureau’".  
  17. ^  
  18. ^ Lacher, Irene (June 1, 2013). "Shohreh Aghdashloo, from Tehran to Hollywood".  
  19. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau".  
  20. ^ "Finally, an Action Thriller for Religious Thinkers".  
  21. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau: Fate vs. Free Will, Matt Damon Style".  
  22. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau: Fate vs. Free Will, Matt Damon Style".  
  23. ^ a b  
  24. ^ Falsani, Cathleen (March 8, 2011). "The Adjustment Bureau: Does God Change Our Minds, or Do We Change God's?".  
  25. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau: Fate vs. Free Will, Matt Damon Style".  
  26. ^ at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City Monday, February 14, 2011"The Adjustment Bureau"Universal Pictures presents the World premiere of .  
  27. ^ Gaul, Lou (June 20, 2011). Adjustment Bureau' arrives Tuesday on home video"'".  
  28. ^ Arnold, T.K. (June 29, 2011). The Adjustment Bureau' Tops DVD, Blu-ray Sales Charts"'".  
  29. ^ "The Adjustment Bureau (2011)".  
  30. ^  

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