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Destiny and Our Chosen Paths: The Adjustment Bureau Review

Updated on March 27, 2012

Fate, destiny, coincidence. What do you believe? Is there one person out there for you and one path you must follow? Then how does it work – if you live on opposite ends of the world and never leave to travel and visit other places – are you never going to be with your soul mate? Or are there multiple soul mates out there?

The film The Adjustment Bureau is based on the short story by Philip K. Dick, called The Adjustment Team. This movie gets you thinking about your existence and virtually where does it come from? The idea that yes, some things are coincidence but other things were meant to be are conceptualized in this film.

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in the film, the Adjustment Bureau.
Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in the film, the Adjustment Bureau.

Is it Fate or Coincidence?

You missed the bus because you spilled coffee on your shirt and had to rush back home and change. Is it coincidence that you take a different bus in which you run into the woman who you’ve fallen in-love with – who you haven’t seen in a year? Is this fate or coincidence?

The Adjustment Bureau is all about these two things. It’s a weird movie, one of those thinking ones like Inception which also deals with mind control – this movie however, I’m not even going to try and get into because plainly I’m sure I didn’t understand it in its entirety.

The employees of the Adjustment Bureau have specific jobs to fulfill. They must make sure that the specific plans or paths that a person is supposed to stay on are followed and that they do not veer off their path. They must stay on their path – their future is at stake.

Matt Damon is a New York City politician, who right before his concession speech meets the woman of his dreams. The woman motivates and inspires Damon so much that he feels renewed and refreshed, and gives a killer speech that without her influence he would not have done. He was previously feeling stuck and lost and thus currently the only cure for him was to be in front of large crowds receiving enormous doses of attention, for this is what massaged his ego and made him feel whole.

The woman he meets, Elise, appears to be a wonderful thing as her words were just what David (Damon) needed to hear. So what is the problem?

Emily Blunt of the Adjustment Bureau.
Emily Blunt of the Adjustment Bureau.

She’s Great but Only in Small Doses

The Adjustment Bureau states that Elise was the perfect thing for David, in “small doses.” But if the two were to be together long-term, then she would have the completely adverse effect on him and it would be disastrous, which is why the Bureau goes to great lengths throughout this movie to keep David on the so-called path and away from Elise, making sure to not let the two have any more chance happenings.

Throughout this movie you can feel for David who is doing all that he can to be with Elise, while he’s being diverted by the men working for the Adjustment Bureau. They know where David is at all times. The book they have is outlined with lines and dots of the path David takes through his daily life and a dot is indication of his current whereabouts. The Bureau’s immediately alerted if David isn’t following his destined path – they then pop in and set him back on track. At least this is the plan. David however is different from everyone else who just falls victim and goes with the plan. David fights for the woman he loves and although he doesn’t know where to find her and the diversions create chaos for him, he goes to great lengths and does not give up.

Fate or Coincidence?

Who Chooses our Destiny?

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What if there is an Adjustment Bureau?

Okay I’m just being weird now, but this film did get me thinking.

Should we be following our destined paths or leave it all up to chance? In a way this does make sense. We all have day to day lives which include jobs, relationships, social activities, etc. Anything can happen in one given day as there are endless decisions to make. Do we always make the right decisions? Chinese food or Italian? What if we chose the wrong one? Our future could be influenced greatly.

Why doesn’t the Bureau want them together?

The Bureau has big plans for David. Well, David has big plans for himself, because it is supposedly in his destined future, i.e. what is supposed to happen, and if he sticks with Elise then his great future of success is supposedly history. Elise also has a plan for a successful life which will be null if she is with David.


This wasn’t meant to be a review, but as it has incorporated a little bit of review-type-feel to it, I’m going to spoil the plot for you only because this is a very complicated situation.

David was destined to be president someday.

Elise was destined to be one of the world’s greatest dancers and choreographers.

Both dreams will not come true if the two stay together. The question of why exactly is not divulged and this is what irked me most about this film. I ask whys all the time and I wanted my big why answered.

If David wasn’t president and Elise was teaching dance to six year olds – what a sad and unhappy life. Or is it? Now for some reason I don’t think their lives would be so unfortunate. True the presidential issue is great and would affect the ways of the United States dramatically, but David’s overall happiness and not to mention life is also important.

So They Beat the Bureau

David’s character changes throughout the film. He begins as a politician who thrives on attention. Once he gets this fulfillment for being a well liked politician, he no longer needs huge crowds applauding to him. He now has Elise and this is what changes everything - making his career goals seem more insignificant. But to the Adjustment Bureau he has to be president. David changes his path and uses simple, matter-of-factness to beat the Bureau.

Simple Communication Saves Him

The Bureau has the power to disable phone lines or divert taxis as needed, but they can’t rid the everyday people in a café from speaking. David uses them as his means of finding Elise’s dance studio where the magic occurs. The moment he kisses Elise, the Bureau has been defeated. It’s too late at this point to adjust David’s path and at this point his future has been changed. The book is rewritten with Elisa in it, following alongside David’s path.

Check out The Adjustment Bureau - for it’s a great entertaining thriller that you will question until no end!

This is Hub #5 in my 30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenge.

The Adjustment Bureau Trailer

Matt Damon's Best Films

Hub #5 in the 30 Hubs Challenge.
Hub #5 in the 30 Hubs Challenge.


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    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Thanks Ralph Deeds for stopping by and commenting.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Good movie. Nice review.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Thank you Danette. I think you are right, there are probably other movies with similar type of questions in them. Thanks for commenting.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for the hub. That movie is on my "to see" list.

      I think another movie that addresses the question of is it our destiny or can we pick our own path is Forrest Gump. Not just because of the kitschy phrase "Life is just a box of chocolates." There is also the story line of Forrest Gump saving Lt. Dan on the battlefield where Lt. Dan feels it was his destiny to die, following the line of ancestors who fought and died in various previous American wars.

      Looks like an interesting movie.Thanks for the hub.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      I think you'll like it, it is a very interesting film that takes a lot of anaysis afterwards- for me anyways.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Interesting. Thanks for the review. I can hardly wait to see it.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      It is a very interesting film! Thanks Dolores Monet for the comment.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      An interesting concept. Sounds like a good movie and I enjoyed the review!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice hub,thanks.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Cool! I've listed some of Philip K. Dick's short stories in my Amazon capsule - check them out and maybe there will be one that interests you ! =)

    • dwoodward profile image

      dwoodward 6 years ago

      I Will Be Reading his short story collection soon so many great stories into movies, Blade Runner, Total Recall and this movie as well

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Yeah Philip K. Dick has wrote many short stories and quite a few have been made into movies too. Thanks for stopping by Cogerson and for the comment too.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Very impressive hub...I did not even know that The Adjustment Bureau...was based on a Phillip K. Dick short many more of those can there reading your hub my desire to see the movie has muliplied by 3....great job

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Thanks Mindy! Yeah it sure is a thinking type movie, lots of stuff happening! Matt Damon is an awesome actor.

    • mindyjgirl profile image

      Mindy 6 years ago from Cottage Grove, Oregon

      Awesome Hub! I was watching Matt talk about the show and he was amazed at the depth of it. I haven't seen the movie yet, Yikes.

    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      Thanks! This movie definitely makes you think.

    • profile image

      Doug 6 years ago

      This is a Great Hub!! This movie was quite amazing and this brings a lot of to real life perspective.