Fate or free will?

Last night, I watched a movie called The Adjustment Bureau (official movie website), based on the short story by Philip Dick, “Adjustment Team.”

In an article written by Stuart Heritage of The Guardian, it is not difficult to see he really didn’t like the film… it may even appear that Heritage thought of it as a joke. His phrases like “berserk,” “faux-profound,” and “insipidness” make you think the filmmaker, first-timer George Nolfi, really messed it up. Plot holes and wormholes plague the film, reviewer Xan Brooks says.

But on a Friday night when I had nothing else to do, it honestly wasn’t a bad watch. I’ll tell you why…

The Adjustment Bureau movie poster via theadjustmentbureau.com
The Adjustment Bureau movie poster via theadjustmentbureau.com

We can all appreciate a well thought-out story, like the Harry Potter movie adaptations, based on a series of books by author JK Rowling. We can also appreciate great cinematography and believable special effects, like in Gravity (2013). And when someone puts together amazing cinematography, musical scores, believable characters to which we can relate, gripping stories, and a greater-than-life message, we get critically-acclaimed pieces like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, 12 Years A Slave, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, to name a few.

The Adjustment Bureau was not necessarily one of those. But it had its merits.

  • Great chemistry between the leads
  • Believable character for Matt Damon: David Norris, with a backstory of loss of family, and yearning to bring positive change, humble beginnings, “Started from the bottom, now we’re here” kind of story
  • Somewhat believable story, but frankly irrelevant, for Emily Blunt: beautiful ballet dancer about to make a big name for herself in New York and internationally (?)
  • The concept of fate vs. free will, destiny vs. pre-determination
  • The idea of “God” and “The Creator” and as they called it in the movie, “The Chairman”

Although I recognize that the first 3 points have mostly to do with the Hollywood component of the movie, the concept is what is truly important to the story.

The idea they marketed it after was Fate or Free Will?

In the film, there are characters (presumably angels) who make “adjustments” to people’s lives. They carry notebooks with detailed maps outlining the interconnectivity of various paths a person can take. There are “decision points” along the way, which alter the future path of that person. The adjusters are employed to keep their eyes on a particular person, or a group of people, to ensure that they’re going according to what the book says. Any time they are about to stray from it — intentionally or non-intentionally — the adjusters have to step in, make amends, and get them back on the required path. If the adjusters are not able to adjust the person’s path before he or she reaches a decision point, the path is changed from the Chairman’s plan, which angers the adjusters, since they answer to Him for these slip-ups.

And obviously, the hero and heroine are destined to meet but not destined to be together, but they change that, because that’s what made the story interesting.

But what do you think about it?

Fate or free will?


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