Damon and Blunt’s chemistry requires no ‘Adjustment’

"The Adjustment Bureau's" sillier moments are offset by its exploration of fate. Photo via Universal Pictures.

One of the basic rules of film critiquing is that a critic should walk into every movie with an objective mind. However, there are several things that can cause a reviewer to become worried before the opening credits start to roll. For instance, if a movie features Justin Bieber or is directed by Michael Bay, I begin to get concerned.

However, one of the ultimate warning signs of cinematic dreck is if a movie’s release is delayed. The Nicolas Cage flop “Season of the Witch” was delayed almost a full year, and “Take Me Home Tonight,” the new Topher Grace ’80s comedy, was originally scheduled for release in 2007. Usually, if the film is delayed, the studio doesn’t want you to see it.

As a result, one could say I was a little cautious about “The Adjustment Bureau,” a Matt Damon/Emily Blunt romantic thriller originally scheduled for a March 2009 release. Much to my surprise, though, it’s an enjoyable flick, with above-average acting and ideas.

The film follows David Norris (Damon), a New York politician about to lose his campaign for office. Before his final speech, he meets Elise Sellas, a modern dancer played by the gorgeous Blunt.

They spark instant chemistry, but fate has other plans for them. Literally. As Damon attempts to reconnect with his true love, dapperly dressed officers of fate, working for an unseen “Chairman,” try to goad and force Damon into his previously written destiny.

If that sounds a little convoluted, I haven’t even mentioned the villain with the festive scarf, the magical doors and the mystical hats.

Admittedly, “The Adjustment Bureau’s” plot has several goofy elements, and the dialogue sometimes follows in the same silly path. One line in particular, soberly describing a way to defend oneself against the men in the teleporting hats, got a genuine laugh from the audience.

All of that can be pushed aside, however, when you have Blunt and Damon making some serious heat on screen. The two are very good actors on their own, but together, their romantic scenes sizzle. They have real onscreen chemistry together, a rarity in most romantic comedies and thrillers these days.

In addition, since most of the plot developments are in fact based around their unrelenting love, the audience really needs to feel it to get the tension out of the story. Because their romance is so gripping, chase scenes that might have seemed passé gain new intensity, with their lives and love both at stake.

“The Adjustment Bureau” isn’t just about sexy stars and goofy hats, though. The concept of fate is threaded throughout the movie, making it deeper and more thoughtful than one would expect from a film that appears to be the lovechild of “The Bourne Identity” and “Inception.” The film asks whether one should follow their heart or follow their responsibilities to society — an intriguing question that allows the movie to succeed on a metaphoric level as well as a surface one.

Unfortunately, the film’s conclusion doesn’t live up to its lofty premise and execution. A massive anticlimax I won’t spoil for you, the resolution is, to put it simply, flat-out lame.

Aside from that, “The Adjustment Bureau” is a solid piece of entertainment in an otherwise sub-par film season. It’s a fun and sexy movie, with a little bit of brains to back it up.

Turns out it was a good movie just fated to show up a little late.