The Adjustment Bureau - Fate vs. Free Will


This week, I had the opportunity to attend a sneak peek of the new Matt Damon movie The Adjustment Bureau.  My invitation came from an organization that markets entertainment options to people of faith.  Somehow I’d missed the trailers for this film, so I went in to the screening with only the vaguest of ideas about the movie’s content. Since drifting off to sleep while my husband watches the Bourne trilogy for the umpteenth time is a regular occurrence for me, I assumed the film would have lots of Damonesque action sequences.

In reality, The Adjustment Bureau seemed a mix to me of romance, philosophy, and science fiction.  While we believers will likely superimpose our perspectives upon it, the film doesn’t overtly refer to “God” or “guardian angels” or “heaven”.  The plot introduces us to David Norris (Damon), budding young politician, and talented dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt).  We have a front row seat to their instant chemistry, but soon learn that the suit and fedora clad agents of the Adjustment Bureau intend to keep these two apart.

In some senses, The Adjustment Bureau fascinated me in the same way I enjoyed Inception.  It’s a film that can be enjoyed at its most basic level.  Matt Damon is awesome, and Emily Blunt is even better — and the combination of the two together really worked well for me.  The film has humor, romance and enough action to please Bourne fans.  It also has some cool twists and turns.

But those who pay attention, and who care about popular culture’s take on faith, will find fodder in this film for some deeper conversations.  The film addresses head-on the conflict between predestination and free will.  I’ll admit to not particularly liking — or completely agreeing with — its conclusion in that respect. But I’ll also share that since I saw it, The Adjustment Bureau has put some big thoughts and questions into my mind – topics I’ll be anxious to discuss with anyone else who sees the film.

The Adjustment Bureau earns its PG13 and AIII ratings for language and a (completely unnecessary) premarital sex scene.  The following reviews may help you determine if the film is suitable for you and your older teens:

I’ll be anxious to hear from those of you who venture out this weekend to see The Adjustment Bureau.  And simply because it’s super awesome and Steven Greydanus is one of my heroes, I hope you enjoy his “30 Second Review” of the film:


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. She blogs at multiple online venues including Patheos. Her articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and the Catholic Press Association tour of Israel as a guest of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Hendey lives with her family in the Diocese of Fresno, California.

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