One of Nolfi's pivotal tweaks to the source is casting Damon as rising politician David Norris - as opposed to an insurance salesman - whose sense of idealism is being crushed by the PR machine. An early standout scene finds him growing in self-awareness while he delivers a speech, going off line to muse on the absurdities of paying a man to determine the appropriate level of scuffing on his shoes (just enough to evoke the working man, but not too much that he looks slapdash). It's a light-bulb moment doubled in impact by his first encounter with Elise (Blunt) in the restroom. She is anything but calculating, kissing him just because she feels like it.
As a stark contrast, fate intervenes in the shape of Mad Men's slippery smooth Roger Sterling (John Slattery), known here as Richardson. The mystery kicks in, initially because Richardson's purpose is unclear. He appears to be a caretaker of destiny but more a spook than an angel with his grey suit and fedora, trying to flit unnoticed between dimensions to 'correct' the course of David's life. He's one of many that include Anthony Mackie as Mitchell, who has become jaded with mapping out people's lives. David gets an accidental glimpse of these backstage machinations and Richardson snatches Elise's number from his grasp. But this only fuels his desire.
If Nolfi is following the Hitchcock plan of thriller-making, then Elise is the 'Maguffin' - the object David is desperate to track down - except that she isn't just an object but a life-affirming presence who can save David's soul. Therefore, the stakes are much higher and a genuine, mutual empathy comes across between the leads that makes it all the more easy to root for them. Three years later and after much searching, David finally spots Elise again. He runs, kicking the middle part of the story into high gear, where the merest kiss threatens the world order (Norris trading his passion for politics for passion of a different kind) and Richardson becomes more frantic.
All this would be enough to sustain tension over 105 minutes, but Nolfi adds depth as well, probing matters of fate and accountability. David is forced to consider whether sacrificing a life with Elise might be his truest act of love, if not for the benefit of The World, then for her own welfare. However, the more important question always remains: How do you weigh personal happiness against the greater good? Sadly, Nolfi fudges on that and the result is that many stimulating ideas and much determined, breathless action fail to produce a convincing resolution. At the crunch, Hollywood conventions overrule the laws of Dick's universe. In this way, it's the preoccupation with destination that makes the journey, not the destination itself.
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