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The late (and, yes, great) Philip K. Dick has inspired several high-end science fiction films (including Blade Runner, Minority Report, and Total Recall), but the newest may also be one of the calmest, strangest, and most sincerely humane. Adapted by screenwriter / first-time director George Nolfi, the flick follows a young senatorial candidate (Matt Damon) who runs afoul of a virtually omnipotent team of otherworldly "adjusters" -- folks who can 'push' humanity in one direction or another -- while repeatedly falling in love with the same doe-eyed dancer over and over again.

Yeah, The Adjustment Bureau is sort of an abstract piece: it feels like sci-fi, but it also presents several juicy ideas best described as "speculative theology," while also delivering a fairly nifty neo-noir vibe crossed with an appreciably unpredictable chase thriller. But mainly it's a romance. Indeed, The Adjustment Bureau, bolstered as it is by two excellent performances by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, may be one of the most unexpectedly effective romantic tales in quite a while -- certainly as far as science fiction flicks are concerned, anyway.

Deliberately paced but mostly rather expeditious with its wares, Bureau falters a bit with an overlong third act, and a few of the movies "rules" are explained in clunky or harried fashion, but overall it coasts by with an admirable confidence and a consistently compelling series of cool ideas. On the scale of P.K. Dick adaptations, The Adjustment Bureau rates impressively high marks; it's hardly up there with a Blade Runner or Minority Report, but it's the sort of sci-fi flick we don't get from Hollywood all that often: one with more than half a brain, a lot of weird, quick wit, and a surprisingly full heart.

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George NolfiPhilip K. DickMatt DamonEmily BluntLisa ThoresonFlorence KastrinerRomanceSci-FiThriller

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