The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
The Adjustment Bureau is another film in the proud tradition of mindbending films about man's destiny and the philosophical implications of free will. On the surface it's another urban story of a shadowy group determined to use us as pawns. Artistically the decision was made a long time ago to represent these individuals as corporate and/or law enforcement personnel. Yes, The Adjustment Bureau does suffer from occasional cliches and the interpersonal behavior of its characters requires more suspension of disbelief than the outlandish plot. One of its facets that makes it an enjoyable experience is that it doesn't go out of its way to be dark. Philosophical films like these, especially one with a story penned by the brilliant Philip K. Dick tend to have overly dark overtones accentuated in a dark nocturnal metropolis and lots of shadows. The Adjustment Bureau doesn't bend over backwards to do this. There are good moments of suspense and the conflict is prominent, but the action does not take place in a drab setting nor does it take itself so seriously that Matt Damon becomes just an other brooding everyman caught in a world not of his creation. The mention of Damon brings us to the acting. Matt Damon is an actor that I neither love nor hate, and I can say that he does a fine job here. His character, David Norris, is a square jawed winner (even when he's losing) with some flaws and a backstory that could of used more exploration despite the relatively short running time of the movie. Emily Blunt plays the beautiful love interest and the nexus point of the entire conflict. Despite her physical beauty, the film presents her as a woman you feel you could indeed bump into in the street, without downplaying her charm and grace. Slattery and Stamp both play stoic flunkies for an unseen authority figure straight from Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith textbook. This makes it difficult for them to make much of an impression because their type of character has almost become a caricature in and of itself. Anthony Mackie made the biggest impression on me with a performance that managed to be both understated and memorable. His character's own internal conflict at times seemed to me to have been better fleshed out by his mannerisms than that of the David Norris character. Overall, The Adjustment Bureau is a fun time at the movies and brings up several interesting philosophical questions. And while it's not something I can see myself re-watching several thousand times, it is worth the price of admission.