Boston liberal activist and actor Matt Damon has a history of politically charged movies on his resume – see “Green Zone” – alongside his blockbuster “Borne” and “Oceans” films.
But with “The Adjustment Bureau,” the star sinks to a new, all-time low, delivering a movie that, while reasonably entertaining, nonetheless champions homosexuality, takes sneering aim at the Bible and pushes a theological premise that so blatantly but subversively attacks God, I question whether it was made by Matt Damon … or Matt “Demon.”
Unfortunately, most audiences, I imagine, won’t see the way this film subtly undermines its viewers’ ability to trust in God. Most will see it as a clever sci-fi tale dripping with Damon’s charisma and only casually remember that it toyed with the idea of angels and their boss “upstairs.” They’ll remember the action, the somewhat shallow but romanticized, star-crossed love story and … that’s about it.
But just so we’re clear: Long after audiences forget the name of Damon’s costar, the film’s slithering effect will linger.
For while audiences are enjoying the chase scenes, “The Adjustment Bureau” cleverly assaults God’s character, diminishes His power, distances Him from His creation, makes Him out to be impersonal, impotent and manipulative.
In other words, it has the exact same effect as the serpent’s whispers to Eve.
“The Adjustment Bureau” is the story of a bright, young, New York congressman who crosses paths with a lovely dancer. In only a few brief moments, she inspires him, changes him and steals his heart.
And that’s as far as “the plan” was supposed to allow things to go.
But shortly thereafter, the “agent” – later revealed to be an angel – assigned to the congressman’s case messes up, allowing the lovers to be reunited. Their love renewed, the congressman determines to remain with his ballerina forever.
This, the movie explains, is a disaster, for it wasn’t part of the plan written for them by “the Chairman” – later deliberately identified as God.
The rest of the film is a battle between the congressman and the Chairman’s agents to determine whose will … will win.
But to the discerning Christian, some problems begin to emerge with this Chairman/God character:
For starters, the Chairman is neither omniscient nor omnipotent, for, the movie contends, the power of chance can catch the Chairman by surprise and mess up his plan.
Neither is the Chairman particularly benevolent or just, for no one, the movie demonstrates, actually knows what his will is or why it is.
“Do you ever wonder if [working out the Chairman’s plan] is right?” one rebellious angel – whom the audience comes to identify as the hero of the film – asks another. “If it’s always right?”
The question itself is natural and intriguing and could prove a valuable discussion in another film, but this movie’s implied answer is clearly no.
And when the congressman and his ballerina fight all the odds to take their case directly to the Chairman, they battle their way up his magnificent tower only to discover … he isn’t there. Foolish humans; you thought you could actually talk to God directly? Like He cares?
“Did you think you could reach the Chairman and write a fate of your own?” scoff the angels. “It doesn’t work like that.”
No, the movie slyly portrays, God is little more than an unknowable, changeable, impersonal, selfish puppet master.
But that’s nothing compared to the ire the film reserves for the Chairman’s book.
I wrote earlier that the film was pro-homosexual, and that’s a bit metaphorical, but I still think it’s clearly implied. For the film is all about a love affair that the Book – the written, detailed description of the Chairman’s plan – forbids. It’s not hard to infer a homosexual double-meaning in the following quotes from the film:
- “Why do you care who I love?” the congressman asks an angel.
- “This can’t be wrong,” he insists of his affair with the dancer. “Why do you think it’s wrong?” she asks. “The Book!” he answers. “It’s in their Book.”
- Ah, but, “It doesn’t matter what you feel,” the congressman is told. “What matters is what’s in black and white.”
Oh, that darn, love-killing, legalistic book! Who would possibly think of the Bible as the “anti-love” book?
Oh. Wait. I think I know one community, one circle of special interest groups, that preaches that exact mantra.
Finally, as if the Nietzsche-like humanism of the film needed one more boost in the arm, “The Adjustment Bureau” ends with the following moralizing:
“Free will is a gift you won’t know how to use until you fight for it,” the angels explain. “That’s the Chairman’s plan. Maybe one day, we won’t write the plan. You will.”
And so, man ascends to the throne and kicks God off. Long live the Übermensch!
- “The Adjustment Bureau” contains roughly two dozen profanities and obscenities.
- The film contains one sex scene with some graphic movement, but no graphic nudity. It also contains some kissing, cleavage, short skirts, ballet dancers in revealing costume and a few flirtatious lines of dialogue.
- The movie’s violence consists of a punch, a kidnapping and a pair of sudden car accidents. In one of the accidents a man is struck; in another, the drivers are seen bloodied by the collision.
- The film has several thinly veiled references to an unnamed supreme being and his angels, referred to as “the Chairman” and his “agents.” As the review above describes, this is a prevalent theme of the film, but all references to God, Jesus, Buddha or any other specific deity are purposefully omitted.