Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau- Movie Review

The Adjustment Bureau
I don't often post movie reviews. When I do it's because a movie is a real stinker or really great.  The Adjustment Bureau I found to be one of the most fascinating movies I've ever seen. The more I think about the movie, the more I like it.

Over the Christmas break, the family had a chance to catch up on some movies.  We watched The Help (really good), Happy Feet (again), the Chronicles of Narnia Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the final installment of Harry Potter.  The last two movies are known for their Christ figures and both were really good.  But, The Adjustment Bureau, surprised me with its theological implications and I thought did a great job of addressing the age-old arguments of free will versus predetermination and theodicy (how could a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people).

The movie starts out slowly and you might mistake it for one of those stupid romantic comedies. The female love interest (Emily Blunt) is "quirky" (annoyingly so IMO) making me wonder why Matt Damon is so smitten with her. Her antics at the beginning of the movie (crashing a wedding, hanging out in a men's room, etc.) are charming to Matt. But, hang in there, it gets explained and it gets better.  We find out that the world is not exactly as it appears when Matt Damon begins to fall for her and it's not in the plan of "The Chairman" (God).  Men from the Adjustment Bureau are accidentally discovered by Damon and they have no choice but to reveal to him that they appear in the lives of humans to make corrections where our free will has things going "off plan". It's not in Damon's destiny to be with the woman that he feels this irresistible attraction to.  He is running for the senate and the plans for him (and for her) are much bigger than this.  

I won't ruin any more of the plot for you by telling you what happens to our two star-crossed lovers.  But, the thing I found fascinating about the movie was it's addressing how God can be both good and powerful and still things happen that are bad.  Coincidentally, I am reading a book right now that talks about open theology or process theology which involves the idea that God is very powerful (not necessarily all powerful) and very good.  But, God has either limited his power or has limited power that allows for free will.  He has an overall plan that he's constantly working toward and he redeems bad circumstances for the better.  But, free will and even random chance can "surprise" even God and He has to come up with a new plan or make adjustments.  This idea of a less than omnipotent, omniscient God will be upsetting to many Christians. But, it's the only model that makes sense to me now and I think The Adjustment Bureau did a great job of exploring that, in a light hearted, kind of romantic comedy kind of way.  I give it the very rare 5/5 stars.


kc bob said...

I liked the movie too but maybe not as much as you did Brian. :)

I do find the tension between sovereignty and free will to be an interesting one. I hindsight I really cannot imagine how it could be any other way. Love would not be love at all if we we did not have the option to hate. Faith would not be faith if it was mandatory. In a weird sense it is the glory of mankind to chose their own way. Not that God is passive and doesn't have the last word.

Unknown said...

Have you read any of Gordon Olson's material on Moral Government Theology? He wrote "the book" on it all.

Brian said...

Phil, I have not read any of Olson's material.