4 May 2015

Angels and Fate

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I went on a little camping holiday this weekend to a grotty field in the rain because that's what British people do. As we cowered under our makeshift shelter like chimps in a nest, we decided to pass the time by reading trashy women's mags and getting progressively bladdered. If we learned anything from this experience though, it's that like Disney and fairytales have been trying to tell us, true love really does conquer all. Except, if the trashy mags are to be believed, this isn't because people have found their soul mate but rather that they're simply fucking stupid. Story after story we read about moronic women going back to their abusive partners like a flock of fleshy idiot-magnets. In one case, a bloke had tried to strangle his wife before stabbing her in the neck with his car keys and even then she went back to him. Like lemmings slinging themselves off the cliff of love, it seemed that once people got an idea into their head, even the strongest of alcoholic partners couldn't beat it out of them. Now I'd like you to re-read this paragraph whilst using my bitter tone and try to work out exactly just how long I've been single for.  

The Adjustment Bureau stars Matt Damon as a potential presidential candidate and Emily Blunt as a dancer that he finds hiding in the toilets... because nothing screams 'romance' like a woman creeping around the shitter, the two instantly fall in love with their passions heating up like a fart near a flame. Sadly for them the world is actually run by an organisation of suited up angels who have decided that, for a variety of reasons, the two of them shouldn't be together. Damon and Blunt therefore spend the bulk of the film being kept apart but bumping into each other, as the angels display all the usefulness of a dildo made from cheese. Like the bimbos in those trashy magazines, it seems that nothing can keep Blunt and Damon apart as their love becomes so powerful that it risks pissing all over whatever plan God has for us. Over time, cinema has presented angels in all different forms, from the beautiful Tilda Swinton in Constantine to the gag-inducing John Travolta in Michael. Here however, it seems that they're simply business-men in a shadowy organisation like a cross between the Men In Black and Millers Crossing. In fact, it's not actually said for definite that they are angels, with the film simply hinting towards it with all the subtlety of a tent-peg to the cock. 

I think the interesting thing about this film is that despite being marketed as The Bourne Identity meets Inception, it's actually more of a love story than an action movie. This is kind of a good thing too as thanks to the performances of Damon and Blunt, this is probably the most believable thing in it. It's not that I don't buy into our destinies being controlled by angels in hats but rather that the plot holes are so big that you could drive John Goodmans fat arse through it like a bus. Beyond anything, it seems that by attempting to stop the couple from being together, the angels are creating far greater ripples in the process. At one point they magically crash a taxi to stop Damon from running away without really dealing with the consequence of.. the crash. Am I supposed to believe that both the police who attend the incident and the injured driver had no part to play in the fate of the world? What a depressing thought! At the very least, as most of the uniformed services seem to be busy here, then a good handful of innocent black people will remain un-shot and who knows how their extended lives will affect things? Not only that but if these angels have the power to crash cars at will then why do they even need to chase after Damon in the first place? They have enough magic to influence the will of man but find it difficult to move faster than a light jog? You're angels! Zap him with lightning or have a demon rip halfway out of his arse and grab onto the nearest lamp post. Just do something for fucks sake! 

Having said that, I did like this film for what it was... a disposable pop-corn movie with an enjoyable but ridiculous central concept. It's kind of like if somebody put a gun to the head of that 90's Rom-Com One Fine Day and then anally raped it with The Twilight Zone. In fact, The Adjustment Bureau would make a nice triple bill with The Box and Limitless with all three sharing the same mix of high-concept and instant forget-ability. In terms of how the film is made, it's all fairly fine with the story zipping along at a speed that makes those plot holes and contrivances only slightly annoying. There's also some cool effects near the end as Damon races through doors whilst being transported around America with the cut being seemingly invisible. Not only does this impress by just being cool, but like O.J Simpson denying murder, it also makes the whole thing look so simple. People can compare this film to Inception all they like but this puts a lot less emphasis on attempting to seem intelligent. Inception's third act involves the characters fighting their way through a Russian doll of realities whereas The Adjustment Bureau has a bloke running through some doors whilst wearing a magical hat. 

Oh actually, speaking of the end, and not to go into spoilers. but it does all go a bit fucking balls in its final few minutes. It should conclude with at least one or two people hurling themselves off a building like a suicidal sack of spuds, but it doesn't. It seems that God might have a plan for us all but he's also not against being influenced by Hollywood's need for a bullshit ending. The film is based on a story by Philip K Dick and so, as is always the case with most of his work, it's riddled with paranoia. There are moments in which Damon is screaming that 'people are watching him' that might have been more interesting had the film presented his situation in a more ambiguous way. Or at the very least, when he explains this to people, it'd be nice if they treated him with the worried scepticism that a raving headcase obviously deserves. Not here though... here, Damon screams out his predicament with all the conviction of a man who makes teddy bears out of his dead grandmother's pubic hair and nobody really seems to question him. No wonder people keep going back to each other in my trashy magazines if this film is anything to go by. It's as though movies that aim to be popular refuse to present us with the alternative that there are seven billion people on the planet and we don't just have one each.  

However, perhaps this isn't the worst thing about the ending with the true horror going on behind the scenes. Originally the film was going to end with Damon racing his way up to God who was so impressed by the power of his love that he and Blunt were allowed to stay together. The studio heard about this ending however, shit themselves into a panic and demanded it be scrapped and  re-imagined. Why might this be I hear you ask? Is it because it sounds a bit fucking stupid? Nope, because the whole film isn't exactly smart anyway. It's actually because the director had the nerve to have God played by the actress Shohreh Aghdashloo... To quote James Bond when meeting Dr Goodhead, “A woman!?” Not just a woman though but a Muslim one! Jesus. Can you imagine it? I mean seriously, just imagine if the magical sky-man was played by a non-white, non-male in a piece of light weight, throw-away fiction. Planes would drop from the sky, gravity would cease to exist and vaginas would be replaced by fleshy coloured mousetraps. Humanity would be fucked and civilisation would turn to shit. In a way I can see why the studio would panic because there are enough religious nut jobs out there that this may have fucked a chunk out of the box office returns, however I just think it's depressing that this would even be considered an issue. I don't believe in God and if I did I'd like to think that he'd have enough perspective to not be arsed about who played him in a film. Or at the very least he'd be too busy giving cancer to children to notice.  

At the end of the day The Adjustment Bureau is fun whilst it lasts but nothing special in the long run. In fact, for all the comparisons people have made, it seems that the film it shares the closest relationship with is Danny Boyle's underrated A Life Less Ordinary. The only difference being that in one film the angels are trying to keep people apart and in the other they're trying to push them together. Essentially it seems that angels have nothing to do but act as a kind of supernatural date rape drug. Thanks to them, you have no idea what's happening to you but one when they're done, one way or the other, you've been fucked. Oh, and I suppose this film also shares a kind of similar theme with Pixar's Up. The dilemma here is that if Blunt and Damon stay together then neither will achieve the future they'd hoped for. In Up the old guy and his wife spend a lifetime hoping for a holiday and a child and it seems that he only achieves all of this when she kicks the bucket and stops dragging him down. For all its allusions to religion and all its delusion that perhaps it's asking big questions, maybe The Adjustment Bureau, Up, and my trashy magazines have one simple message... Falling in love is a fucking stupid thing to do. Maybe you'll get stabbed in the throat with some car keys or maybe you won't become the President. Who knows? At the very least though you can probably make fifty quid by selling your story for me to sneer at in a grotty field whilst camping. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.


You can visit the blog picture artist at _Moriendus_


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