Monday, March 21, 2011

Free Will via The Adjustment Bureau

With the 31,173 verses in the complete Word of God, there are a handful of verses that most people reference... and Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those.  The NIV states, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Personally, I'm a The Message fan, and it says, "I have it all planned out--plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future hope for."

As its documented on this here very blogsite, I'm a Christ-Follower, and I fully believe in The Word of God as infallible, unbreakable and perfect, as inspired by God. 

Having said that, we saw a movie yesterday that gives an interesting perspective on those plans that God has for you. 

The movie is called "The Adjustment Bureau", and it opens on a Congressman named David Norris (Matt Damon), and a troubled bid to be a New York Senator.  Things get really crazy when there is a chance encounter with a lovely young lady (Emily Blunt) in a men's restroom... and after the election, he wasn't supposed to meet her again--but he did.  And thus lies the problem.

There is a group called The Adjustment Bureau who watch over everyone and everything, and makes sure all goes according to plan... be it His plan or his plan, they call the big boss "The Chairman".  As the movie progresses, you will find they never are very specific about who or what The Chairman is, and probably that's on purpose so The Chairman can stand for whatever the audience may believe is in charge.

We discover the mystery girl's name is Elise, and she and David fall in love quickly... but at every turn, their romance wasn't supposed to happen, and The Adjustment Bureau does all that it can to stop them and split them up. 

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt... will she reach The Goddess or Amy
Adams (whom I'm in love with) status?  Probably not.  But she is growing
on me.
Overall, the movie is quite good, and at its heart, takes a deep subject--God's purpose and "free will"--and turns it into somewhat of a sci-fi/action/romance flick.  Matt Damon has managed to transformed himself into an incredible versatile actor over the last decade, and in "The Adjustment Bureau", he's completely believable as David Norris, while Emily Blunt is someone I've really taken a liking to over the last few years, first noticed in "The Devil Wears Prada" and shining in 2009's "Sunshine Cleaning", alongside with Amy Adams (whom I'm in love with). 

The movie has a stellar supporting cast as well, which includes John Slattery from "Mad Men" (I kept expecting him to light up a cigarette) as Richardson, one of the Bureau, character actor Anthony Mackie (he played Tupac in Hurricane Rhett's favorite film, the Biggie bio "Notorious") as Harry, the main "caseworker" with David and Elise's case, and Michael Kelly as Congressman Norris' campaign manager.

The action is great, the special effects aren't heavy but they really don't need to be, and the story itself is quite a premise... its that God... or The Chairman, as they call Him, has a certain plan in place, but if the caseworkers (or "angels" as someone calls them in the movie) aren't doing their jobs, things can go awry.  

This begs this question... We know that God is in control, we know that He knows our past and our future, but does He change His plans for us based on our reactions to what we are in the midst of, or does He ultimately have a desire for us to follow one path, but has another laid out before us because He understands that is the path we will take?

And that brings up the subject of Free Will itself.... or rather, Free Will vs. Predestination.  Okay, okay, let me give you full disclosure here.  I want to be honest with you and tell you... I don't really give a rip.  I mean, maybe I should.  I gave my heart and soul to Christ in January of 1995, and whether I chose Him freely or He had pre-determined that to be, doesn't matter to me, I am completely confident in my decision and stand by it.  So does He.

In the movie, David Norris confronts one of the higher-ups in The Bureau, and is told that they control everything, and what The Chairman wants to happen will happen because of their Chairman-directed guidance.  When Norris asks, "What about free will?", Thompson (Terence Stamp in a brilliantly played bad guy who is only bad because he's doing his job) essentially tells him, and I'm paraphrasing here, but says, "We were in control through the cro-magnon age and brought you into civilization, then let you have it.  You gave us the dark ages.  We took control again and brought you the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment, and then gave it back to you in the early 1900s, and in fifty years, you gave us two world wars, the depression and the holocaust.  We felt like we needed to step back in."  I'm sure that monologue itself is full of Biblical inaccuracies, but it was well written.

I was actually surprised about how much I liked this movie, and how well it handled the subject... there was a lot of room for error, and a lot of room to be offensive and polarizing to people of various faiths (mostly Christians), but it handled it well, only briefly dipping into the answers to those Free Will questions, but instead making the questions themselves the focus of the movie. 

Anthony Mackie (far left) walking next to John Slattery, from the Sterling
Cooper branch of The Adjustment Bureau.
Now, I will say this... I didn't like the very ending.  The movie was solid, the build-up was solid (if not a little predictable at points) and the climax was riveting... but the denouement was a let down.  Its a play on words to say "deus ex machina" but that's kinda what it was.  Actually, that's exactly what it was.  I also felt like they left a few unnecessary loose ends... at the end, I turned to The Lovely Steph Leann and said, "Poor Adrian.  What happened to that guy?"

Overall, most of the secular world will find it a pretty good film, perhaps a bit forgettable in the long run.  For those with belief in God, and His plan, I think you'll find it more interesting, if not thought provoking and worthy of discussion.  However, if that's not what you want, I don't think it will be deep enough to force that upon you.  Worth a matinee.

The language is minimal, though there is an F-Bomb in there, and the violence is also minimal.  There is a gettin' it on scene between the two main characters, though nothing is shown save for passionate faces. 

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