| Is the course of a personís life determined by free will or predestination? This intriguing question is explored in this thought-provoking romantic thriller loosely based on the ideas expressed in the 1954 short story "Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick ("Minority Report," "Total Recall" and "Blade Runner").
David Norris (Matt Damon from "True Grit," "Invictus" and the Jason Bourne trilogy) is a rising star in politics. At age 24, he became the youngest representative from the state of New York to serve in the House. The movie opens with him way ahead in the polls in his bid for a Senate seat.
A full-page news story reveals a college reunion prank that turns the tide and has voters doubting Davidís maturity level. On election night, David is in the menís room of the swanky Waldorf=Astoria getting ready to give a concession speech. A beautiful woman (Emily Blunt from "The Young Victoria" and "The Devil Wears Prada") walks into the restroom. She explains that she crashed a wedding reception in an upstairs ballroom. They impulsively share a passionate kiss.
The next day, David ends up on the same bus as this mysterious dame, whose name is Elise. After David spills coffee on her skirt, he offers to pay her dry cleaning bill. She writes her first name and telephone number on a slip of paper.
David then arrives for work at his new job with a venture capital firm. He finds everyone frozen in a temporary state of suspension. A group of men in business suits and hats chase him down the hallway of the office suite. David is apprehended.
Richardson (John Slattery from "Mad Men" and "Iron Man 2"), the head of the group, warns David that his memory will be erased if he says anything about what he has just witnessed. Richardson burns containing Eliseís number. He tells David that he is not to see her ever again. Evidently, David caused a ripple effect, altering his planned fate.
David next meets Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie from "The Hurt Locker" and "Eagle Eye") at the famous Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library. Harry is Davidís caseworker. He explains that he operates as a guardian angel and can read Davidís mind.
The movie fast forwards three years. David is reunited with Elise after spotting her walking down a sidewalk. This time he doesnít want to let the girl of his dreams out of his sight. They have an intense chemistry and it appears they were meant to be together. These bureaucratic adjusters will put obstacles in their way and try every trick in the book to keep David and Elise apart.
Screenwriter George Nolfi ("The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Sentinel" and "Oceanís Twelve") makes an impressive directorial debut. His adapted screenplay sparingly doles out bits and pieces to reel the viewer into this mind-bending fantasy. The movie keeps you on your toes guessing what is lurking around the next corner. You learn things at the same time as David does and that makes the movie a captivating vicarious experience. You find yourself pulling for this attractive couple to stay in each otherís embrace forever. The movie is fast-paced and sustains your interest throughout its 99-minute running time.
Damon has never been better, showing an emotional vulnerability. His charming personality will have the women in the audience fantasizing about sharing his company and the men wanting to be in his lucky shoes. Blunt is alluring and adds an important dimension to the mystery of these star-crossed lovers. Terrence Stamp ("Valkyrie" and "Yes Man") gets to ham it up in a scene-stealing appearance as a key member of the title organization. He clears up the loose ends and puts all the puzzle pieces together by citing historical events.
The movieís other strengths include great special effects, superb cinematography, a wonderful musical score by composer Thomas Newman and an elegant wardrobe of high fashion designs.
With the Academy Awards in the rearview mirror, it is now time for the memorable films of 2011 to take a bow. My hatís off to this clever mystery sure to be embraced by fans of "Inception," "The Matrix" and "Minority Report."
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"