The Adjustment Bureau (2011)
The affair between a politician and a contemporary dancer is affected by mysterious forces keeping the lovers apart.
Do we control our destiny, or do unseen forces manipulate us? A man glimpses the future Fate has planned for him and realizes he wants something else. To get it, he must pursue across, under and through the streets of modern-day New York the only woman he's ever loved. On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a woman like none he's ever known. But just as he realizes he's falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself, the men of The Adjustment Bureau, who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path... or risk everything to defy Fate and be with her.
David Norris is an up and coming politician but on a night when he loses a Congressional election a chance meeting with a stranger, Elise Sellas, inspires him to make a brilliant concession speech that clearly makes him the front-runner for the next time around. They meet again by chance a few years later and are intent on seeing one another. What they do not realize is that there is a mysterious group of men calling themselves the Adjustment Bureau, who seem intent on keeping them apart. Soon David and Elise are on the run with the Bureau trying their best to separate them as they try to maintain David's predetermined future.
In New York, the prominent politician David Norris is disputing the election for the Senate but his past of bad boy makes him lose the election. He meets the stranger Elise Sellas hidden in the Waldorf's toilet and she tells that she had crashed a party and the security guards are chasing her. They start a conversation and they immediately fall in love with each other. However the guards find her and David does not see her again. However she inspires him to make a remarkable speech. Three years later, David is traveling by bus and he sees Elise on the sidewalk. He gets out of the bus to meet her and he learns that she is a dancer. Further, she gives her phone number to him and David promises to call her. However, strangers wearing hats approach to David and tell that they belong to the Adjustment Bureau and Elise and David must be kept apart. They destroy the piece of paper with her phone number and David is unable to contact Elise. When David meets Elise again, the strangers use their abilities to keep them apart. What is the reason why David and Elise can not be together?
- The movie opens with David Norris (Matt Damon), an up-and-coming Senatorial candidate making a public appearance. Norris seems very much a 'people's candidate,' always interacting with people, always empathetic toward their needs and platforms. NBC newscaster Chuck Scarborough makes a news report on Norris increasing an already eight-point lead over his opponent. Norris next appears on the Jon Stewart Show, where Stewart remarks how eight years ago, Norris started his career as a congressional candidate that began with a bang, or a bust... the night he was elected, he was involved in a bar fight and charged with disorderly conduct.
Norris is seen riding with a Coast Guard patrol vessel, being endorsed by NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and making more public appearances, introducing his campaign manager, Charlie Traynor (Michael Kelly), who says that Norris is up ten points. Norris's campaign is like a comet with no signs of slowing down. At another public appearance, a man in a tan beret cap, Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), is seen watching and politely applauding, though he doesn't appear enthused.
It's just about crunch time for Election Day when a campaign aide rushes up to Charlie with a copy of the NY Post with an article about Norris, claiming he is "exposed:" a college reunion prank where he exposed his bare backside has been caught on film.
Mitchell is grimly looking at a ledger-like book when his cell phone rings. He's being questioned by his superior, a man named Richardson (John Slattery), and only tells Richardson that he's 'working on it.'
Election Night arrives. Norris enters a hotel suite and turns on a news program on CNN. Soon as the program dialogue begins it's clear that a huge portion of Norris' constituents and voter base have turned against him based on the exposé in the Post. Journalist Mary Matalin talks about how Norris overcame the loss of his entire family (his mother and brother when he was just 10, and then his father when he was a high school freshman) to become the youngest person ever elected to the House of Representatives, but the bar room fight added to the exposé photo to make Norris look immature and impulsive. Norris is now trailing his opponent in the polls by a margin almost as significant as his earlier lead.
Four men in suits and hats walk across a roof top. Among them are Mitchell and Richardson. Richardson says the four of them have their job cut out for them. At the end of the dialogue he only says, 'let's get him back on track.'
At Norris's hotel, he and Traynor are watching election poll results come in. Norris is defeated in the vote counts for Suffolk County, and more painfully, his home county of Brooklyn. He and Traynor know that the vote will be a total landslide victory for Norris's opponent. NBC news coverage predicts this landslide defeat for Norris even before all the county voting polls are complete.
Norris slinks off alone to work on a concession speech. He goes into the men's room to think. As he puts together his concession speech, he finally hears noise from one of the private stalls, showing it's occupied... by a woman.
Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) comes out of the stall, barefoot and holding her shoes. She explains that she'd been in there hiding from security after she crashed a wedding on a self-dare. She was in the stall when Norris entered and, too scared to come out and admit that she was in a men's room, ended up inadvertently listening to him working on his speech. Sellas recognizes Norris and understands that he's lost the election. The two start to bond right away; Sellas admitting she thought Norris's reunion prank was amusing. Sellas quickly sees that Norris loves being in a crowd, loves being the center of attention among large groups of people.
Suddenly on impulse, Norris and Sellas start kissing passionately, having very quickly grown infatuated with each other. The kiss is interrupted by Traynor, who enters the rest room to fetch David for his concession speech. Norris hurries out after Sellas in hopes of arranging to see her again, but hotel security arrives in search of her and she has to make a very hurried run for it.
Norris's concession speech starts out moving and powerful, but suddenly he tosses it out of his head and starts speaking candidly about how his campaign 'analyzed' and 'consulted' (paying large amounts of money to professional consultants) over the color of his tie and how much his shoes should be scuffed. As he takes off one shoe to show his supporters, camera flashbulbs go off.
Richardson meets Mitchell in a park at sunrise and tells him that Norris has to spill coffee on his shirt no later than 7:05 am. Mitchell assures Richardson he'll get Norris soon as he enters the park.
Norris wakes up and dresses, listening to a morning financial-news report that talks about how he is becoming a senior partner in a company called RSR Venture capital. He is no longer a Congressman, but his concession speech was 'electrifying' to the point of making him a front-runner in the next upcoming Senate race for the other Senate seat for New York, in 2010. Norris's campaign manager, Traynor, is the founder of RSR.
Mitchell nods off while waiting in the park and wakes up just in time to see Norris board his bus. The window of 7:05 am passes. He grabs his book from his inside pocket and looks at it in alarm. Desperate, he starts running after the bus, doggedly chasing after it.
As Norris boards the bus, he is stunned to find someone else nodding off there... Sellas. He sits down beside her as she wakes up. The two instantly begin re-connecting, and Norris tells Sellas about his new job he's starting (she's opposed to his not running again in 2010).
As the bus stops, Mitchell catches up but cannot run across the intersection where opposing traffic has the green light. He checks his watch, seeing it's just past 7:05 am, and gestures at the bus.
The bus lurches suddenly, Norris's coffee spilling... but it spills on Sellas's skirt and tights, not on Norris. A second later Mitchell is hit hard from behind by a taxicab. He insists to the gathering crowd he's okay, and is more concerned about his book. He looks inside it and a graph-like display of lines starts to change in a way that Mitchell notes with displeasure.
In the meantime, Norris and Sellas are continuing to talk, and it's clear they're both flirting. When Norris's Blackberry rings, Sellas playfully grabs it out of his pocket and sticks it into his coffee. She writes her name and number on a card for Norris so he can call her later.
Norris calls Traynor and they briefly talk about a proposal Norris made on investing in solar panels. Traynor believes it will be too expensive and not enough research has been done to show it as worthwhile, but he offers to Norris, 'convince me at the meeting.'
Norris arrives at the RSR offices, greetings several workers without noticing they seem to be frozen in time. He enters the conference room to find Richardson there with a number of his men; one of them waving a strange instrument over Traynor, who is frozen in time. Unable to understand how Norris sees him and his men, Richardson orders Norris seized. Norris flees but every turn he finds more of Richardson's men converging on him, seemingly appearing out of everywhere. Richardson himself continues to appear in front of Norris at every turn. Norris manages to lock himself inside Traynor's office and frantically dials 911. Richardson's men come through the locked door as if it wasn't locked. Norris is grabbed, choloformed and dragged through one of the doors-- into an empty warehouse.
Norris awakens, listening in complete confusion as Rirhardson tries telling his men that Norris has to be 'reset,' but 'The Chairman' would never sign an order approving it. He listens, dumbfounded, to Richardson and another man arguing over him in terms Norris has no clue as to what they mean. Finally Richardson approaches Norris and follows his colleague's advice, telling Norris about himself: Richardson is part of a group called The Adjustment Bureau, tasked with making sure 'things go according to plan.' The 'plan,' as Richardson calls it, is how current events are supposed to go and how people's lives are supposed to be lived. The Adjustment Bureau (which will be called TAB for short hereafter, in this synopsis) works to correct minor deviations from The Plan. Of course, Norris thinks that Richardson is nuts, but Richardson proves that he is able to read Norris's mind, and further, he's able to bend up a small piece of floor to trip Norris when he tries to run, just by pointing at that piece of floor.
Richardson explains how Norris was supposed to spill his coffee, thus missing his bus and arriving at work ten minutes later, which would have prevented him from seeing Richardson and TAB 'adjusting' Traynor to change his mind on Norris's solar panel proposal. Now that Norris has seen TAB in action, Richardson needs assurance that Norris will never tell another soul about what he's seen; something no human is supposed to know exists. Richardson says that if Norris ever talks about TAB, they'll reset his brain, erasing his personality and making him appear to the rest of the world, to be catatonic and insane for the rest of his life. But then, to Norris's horror, Richardson also tells Norris that his meeting with Sellas on the bus was not supposed to happen and he's never supposed to see her again. His men forcibly search Norris to find the card on which Sellas had written her name and number, and they burn it.
Two TAB members drag Norris to a door and throw him through it, and he finds himself back in Traynor's office in RSR. Before he can even get back up, Traynor comes in through the other door, upset because he'd called Norris 'ten times' without an answer. Traynor brings Charlie to the meeting and endorses the solar panel proposal. But after the meeting, Traynor is puzzled. Before the whole fiasco with TAB, Norris had told Traynor how he'd run into Elise again, and instead of being giddy with happiness, he's acting like he's in a big fog of confusion about everything. In truth, Norris is; hardly able to believe what he'd gone through and yet not daring to speak a word of it, in case the threat given by Richardson was true.
Some time later, Norris is in a small bar/grill, trying to recall Sellas's phone number from memory. Mitchell arrives, wondering why Norris is fixated on one woman when his whole world has been turned upside down. He tells Norris that even if he remembered the number, TAB had many ways to make sure the call never went through. He insists that TAB 'adjustments' only make small changes in the way people reason; tweaking emotions was too intrusive and could end up with many unforeseen and unintended 'side adjustments' (called 'ripples'). Everything that TAB does has to be approved by the 'Chairman,' which Mitchell says is just a name TAB uses (he alludes as to some of the names that people call The Chairman). Finally Mitchell says it's not safe to talk at the bar/grill. He offers to meet Norris on the 4 pm Staten Island Ferry and he'll answer whatever he's allowed to answer there. Before he leaves, however, Mitchell repeats Richardson's warning about resetting Norris if he reveals the existence of TAB.
On the boat, Mitchell tells Norris that when he arrived at RSR and walked in on TAB 'adjusting' Traynor, they were simply making subtle shifts in the way he weighs investments, which would shift the direction of the company according to 'plan.' He insists that TAB actually cannot read minds or hear thoughts; they can merely sense when people weigh choices and options, particularly when those decisions veer off plan. Although TAB must monitor the whole world, there aren't enough of them to keep watch on every individual. And, as Mitchell points out, water blocks TAB's power to read people's decision-making processes. Mitchell doesn't know why TAB is preventing Norris from finding Sellas, but he knows that TAB has expended enough resources already to make the need to keep them apart very important. Mitchell urges Norris to move on with his life. Even if TAB wasn't actively working to keep him from Sellas (which they are), New York City has so many people that the odds of running into her again are near nil.
Three years pass, and Norris has tried to do as Mitchell recommended. But he continues to ride the same bus he met Sellas on, at the same time as the last time he ran into her there, even sitting in the same double seat the two of them shared. And one day, it happens: he's riding on the bus and spots Sellas walking down the street. Getting off the bus, he hurries after her, to find her reception of him a little cooler than before. But he wins her back over by promising on the graves of his parents ('too heavy, but it's true,' he says) that his wallet, which contained her number, was taken from him in a mugging, and that he googled her first name only to get 757,000 links, none of which led to her because he didn't know her last name.
A TAB member rushes into Richardson's office; the man's book shows that Norris and Sellas have met up again. Richardson is in shock; he knows Norris has ridden the same bus every day for three years hoping to find Sellas again, and can hardly believe how he just bumped into her again by chance. Richardson hurries into action, making small 'adjustments,' including cutting power to a studio where Sellas performs; the camera switches to Sellas and Norris talking, and she's telling him that she's a professional ballet dancer at a company called Cedar Lake, and she'll be giving a show at the studio tomorrow. As Norris and Sellas sit at a nice cafe for drinks, Richardson and his cohort, McCrady (Anthony Ruivivar), find that Sellas's decision-making tree is starting to veer toward a large number of unforeseen inflection points. Richardson prepares adjustments that will change the location of the Cedar Lake rehearsal at the last minute. But the plan book shows another major inflection point: If they bond close enough to share a 'real' kiss, any and all attempts by TAB to separate Norris and Sellas again, will produce ripple effects far in excess of their allotted limit.
Fortunately, another TAB assistant has veered Traynor to find Norris and Sellas. When Traynor tells Norris that a large crowd is gathered at the Brooklyn Bridge to hear David make another public appearance speech in preparation for a 2010 Senate run, Sellas begs Norris not to put the speech off just for her sake. She tells him she's just heard her rehearsal will be at Pier 17, very close to the bridge. Richardson is relieved as he sees Traynor and Sellas push for Norris to do as he had originally planned. As Norris arrives at the bridge to make his announcement speech for Senate candidacy in 2010, Richardson and his colleague are viewing a text message sent to Sellas announcing the rehearsal had just been moved back to Cedar Lake.
But as the speech ends, and Norris and Traynor are are heading away, Norris happens to spot Richardson observing him from a window. Glancing back and forth between the window and Pier 17, Norris figures out what Richardson has done. Refusing to back down from Traynor about the need for a follow-up interview, Norris hurries to Pier 17 and sure enough, finds it closed. But this time Norris has a definite name he can pinpoint: Cedar Lake. He calls 411 to get the address, but Richardson kills his signal. When Richardson sees Norris running to the parking attendant to use the hard line, Richardson cuts that signal as well. Norris sees a restaurant across the street, and Richardson, exasperated, cuts all phone signals in a three-block radius. He personally begins to follow Norris to try and talk some sense into him.
But Norris refuses to back down even when Richardson confronts him face to face. He doesn't care if 'The Chairman' personally wrote the 'plan,' he doesn't accept it as right if it's so completely set on keeping him and Sellas apart. Looking intently at Richardson, Norris finally figures out that Richardson himself doesn't know why it's so earth-shakingly important that Norris and Sellas be kept apart. When Richardson cannot answer, Norris is filled with even more resolve. Finally outsmarting Richardson once and for all, Norris walks into the restaurant and politely asks for the attention of all the staff and patrons, asking if any of them have heard of Cedar Lake dance studio, and where he can find it. One of the restaurant guests does know the location. Richardson and his colleague check their plan book, now both desperate. They keep all taxicabs passing through from picking up Norris to give him a ride, but undaunted, Norris decides to run if he has to; taunting Richardson about how many tiny adjustments he's making in how many people's plans, causing more and more ripple effects.
Norris finally gets a taxicab to stop for him, but the cab is immediately hit hard by a car. Norris hails an ambulance and police. But when one officer tries too hard to continue asking him questions, Norris figures out he's actually a TAB member and goes to consult with the sergeant, who assures him the police can call him if need be. Norris flags another cab and bribes him $100 to break a few traffic laws to hurry to Cedar Lake.
Richardson and McCrady race desperately after Norris, and we see they can go through ordinary doors to use them as teleportation gates. Inflection points appear in the plan book and they see that once Norris sees Sellas dance, Richardson will have reached his ripple limit. Richardson tries blocking the studio's doors, but it's too late; Norris looks into the studio and begins to watch Sellas rehearsing. Richardson's reached his ripple limit and Norris knows it. But as Richardson's mobile phone rings, he warns Norris that the overseeing of his plan will only be 'kicked upstairs.' Ignoring Richardson, Norris turns back to the rehearsal, enchanted at the sight of Sellas dancing.
In the TAB headquarters, Richardson is met by his immediate superior, Donaldson (Donnie Keshawarz), who has done some research on all that's been happening with Norris and Sellas. He's found that the reason they met up by chance two times despite all the work that's been done to keep them apart, is because their plans were re-written some time ago. Norris and Sellas WERE originally meant to be together and to fall in love, and it wasn't until 2005 that Sellas's plan was re-written so she would stay with Adrian, the lead choreographer for Cedar Lake. Remnants of the original plan is what keeps pushing Norris and Sellas back together and why they feel so strongly about each other, connecting so easily and deeply.
Talking with one of his subordinates, Donaldson says that cleaning up the mess is going to mean bringing in one of TAB's heaviest hitters, an adjustment overseer named Thompson (Terence Stamp), who is nicknamed The Hammer in TAB for his methods.
Norris and Sellas have been walking through the streets of Manhattan, talking and connecting, during the whole scene. It's evening, and Sellas wants to bring Norris to a dance club. Norris feels he is a horrible dancer, so Sellas offers him a dare: she'll race him from where they're standing to the nearest lamp post. If she wins, he has to come to the club with her. To sweeten the pot, she agrees that if Norris wins, she'll dance for him back at one of their apartments. Sellas playfully says there are no rules, whereupon Norris instantly takes off and builds an insurmountable lead, as sellas can't run fast in the shoes she's wearing. But in an amusing tortoise-and-hare twist, he stops just shy of the lamppost as Sellas pretends to concede to him, only for her to slug him in the stomach and take off running, reaching the lamppost. Sellas brings Norris to a dance club, which makes a huge favorable impression with the club's patrons.
As they're leaving the club, Norris tells Sellas more about how he got into politics: his father took him to the Senate Gallery shortly after Norris lost his mother and brother within a month of each other, when Norris was only in the sixth grade. The camera pans in on Sellas as Norris talks, and it's shown how the story touches her heart. She starts to kiss Norris; the 'true kiss' Richardson had fretted about earlier... and they end up sleeping together.
As they are sleeping, the camera pans out from the bed to show Thompson gravely watching them slumber.
Sellas wakes up the next morning, finding Norris gone. Her cell phone rings; Adrian is calling. As she talks to him, Norris returns with coffee for her. She tells Adrian she has to go, and as she ends the call, she finds that he called three times while she was still asleep.
Sellas explains to Norris that Adrian is her ex-fiance, as well as an extremely skilled dancer and choreographer, and she's surprised that he suddenly called her four times that morning three months after their breakup, almost as if he knew she was with someone (Norris's face changes; he looks very concerned that TAB had a hand in that). But Sellas's explanation why she didn't marry Adrian is touching: once she felt what she felt with Norris, she couldn't imagine being with anyone else. Norris promises never to hurt her, because it's the first time in 25 years that he doesn't feel alone.
Norris brings Sellas with him as he leaves to be interviewed on the Jon Stewart show, and she sits in his backstage dressing room, amusedly watching the interview on a monitor. Just as the interview wraps, a crew member for the show tells Sellas that Norris asked him to tell her that he was just called into an urgent meeting, but he'll call her when he's done, and that he'll see her tonight at Cedar Lake when she and her troupe give a live performance. But the crew member is actually a TAB member, and as he opens a door for Norris, he passes through to find himself in the warehouse where he'd been taken by Richardson before. The door he'd just gone though is now locked and he's trapped there, and he knows why.
Thompson arrives in the warehouse and introduces himself. After a brief exchange about the nature of free will (Thompson claims that people only have free will on small every-day decisions, not large ones with impact on many other people), Thompson finally reveals why TAB is so set on keeping Norris separated from Sellas. He was supposed to meet her once, and only once; the meeting in the men's room of the hotel was intentional, because talking to her there inspired him to give the concession speech that pulled him out of the brink of political ruin to become the front-runner he is today for US Senate, and that he's destined not only to be a great senator, but a great US President. However, if he and Sellas remain together, her playful, bold nature would rub off on the impulsive Norris, which would severely impede his ability to lead the country as president. When Norris insists that the core of his being is made of the choices he makes, and that he chooses Sellas, come what may, Thompson lets him leave the garage and says he can still catch Sellas's dance recital if he hurries.
Norris hurries to the Cedar Lake studio for the performance, watching Sellas dance with her troupe mates. Thompson arrives there a minute later, and finally drops "The Hammer:" he discreetly tells Norris that Sellas is destined to become a world-renowned dancer and choreographer with a stellar future in the art. But if she stays with Norris, her future will likely be teaching dance to young children, running a small dance school, unknown outside of her local community. Finally, before Thompson leaves, he causes Sellas to mistime a jump and hurt her ankle badly in the landing. Distraught, Norris carries her to the nearest hospital. He sits in the waiting room, brooding, while Sellas's feet and lower legs are X-rayed. As Norris waits, Thompson arrives and tells him that what's happened is his fault. Norris furiously belts Thompson with a left hook, but Thompson coolly says that this is what Norris does; what he did to get into a bar fight on his election to congress, what he did to be photographed in the embarrassing article in the Post that cost him the previous election. He's been given fantastic opportunities the average person can only dream of, and he's squandered them on impulsive actions... which isn't being helped by his relationship with sellas. Thompson finishes by saying her ankle is only sprained, but Norris could end up taking away all she's cared about most.
Norris goes to see Sellas in the recovery room. Her ankle is bandaged and will recover within a month, much to her relief. Norris gives her an emotional hug and excuses himself to make a couple of phone calls before bringing Sellas home. But as he walks through the halls of the hospital, it's clear he isn't going to return; he's crumpled under 'the hammer' and walked out of Sellas's life.
Richardson approaches Mitchell at TAB headquarters to report Thompson's success (the camera switches to see a despondent Sellas being wheeled out of the hospital by one of her girl friends). Mitchell looks guilty. He's begun to question if they're doing what's truly right. Richardson admits he used to feel that way, but TAB members like himself and Mitchell only see part of 'the Plan' as written by the Chairman.
It's eleven months later, and Norris is making a public appearance at a small local farming community. A news report gives him a staggering 16-point lead over his opponent less than a month before Election Day.
As Norris wraps up the appearance, Traynor hands Norris a newspaper. He knows Norris would find out about the article eventually, and he wanted to be there when Norris did.
The front page article for the newspaper gives a glowing review for Sellas; her dance career is starting to shine brightly; the latest Cedar Lake show routine winning national acclaim. But Traynor is pointing to one of the inset photos in the article. It shows that Sellas has gotten back together with Adrian (Shane McRae) and they're getting married in a small civil ceremony next week.
Mitchell is seen standing in front of the warehouse, reading the same article. Norris goes to a pier, looking out over the water. Sellas looks over her application form for a marriage license, looking troubled.
Norris goes to the small bar/grill he often frequents. As he walks in, Mitchell is seen walking out through the entrance/exit of the building right beside it. The bar/grill's bartender tells Norris that 'his friend' just left him a message. She hands him a folded piece of paper.
In the evening, Norris goes to the warehouse and is met there by Mitchell. Mitchell tells Norris that Thompson's claim that Sellas brings out a reckless, impulsive side to Norris, was a lie. However, Mitchell says that Sellas would nonetheless impede Norris's ability to become an excellent political leader: what makes Norris such a good 'people person' is his need to be in front of a crowd, his need to mingle with large groups of people, which stems from the great emptiness in his life created by the death of his family. Sellas would fill that hole in his heart so completely that he'd lose that driving need to be with other people and fall out of touch with them; even any personal dreams of making it to the White House would fade. Why Mitchell is agreeing to help Norris is that he understands that Norris's personal ambitions are important, but not the only thing that matters. Mitchell knows that Norris's father and brother were both very intelligent people, and both of them could have, and wanted to, become much greater and bigger people than they turned out; 'The Plan' didn't 'call for it.'
Norris reflects and realizes Thompson wasn't completely dishonest; Norris phones in speeches and is 16 points up, and analysts are already predicting a presidential candidacy in his future. Mitchell, smiling wistfully, acknowledges that the public loves Norris. But, as Norris is beginning to realize is true, this public attention was all he ever cared about, and he's noticing it less and less since he became involved with Sellas. Still, he can't stop thinking about her. He asks Mitchell if he knows where Sellas's marriage will be taking place. Mitchell only says it will be in front of a civil judge, but warns Norris that Thompson will be on the scene in a heartbeat if Norris tries to go to her. Norris realizes that Mitchell is afraid to admit that sellas isn't happy; she's 'settling for second-best' after Norris left her. Knowing that Mitchell does want to help him, Norris asks if Mitchell can help him move the way a TAB person does; to teach him about the doors.
Mitchell says the heavy rains outside will stop in one hour, and the rain is the only reason TAB doesn't know about Norris and Mitchell talking. To make all the plans and preparations, therefore, they need a place completely surrounded by water, because they'll need all night to work. The first and foremost thing Mitchell warns Norris is to only turn doorknobs clockwise; to turn them counterclockwise is only for TAB members. Mitchell also mentions that a TAB hat is what allows them to walk through seemingly locked doors.
Mitchell takes Norris into the city's main pumping station for downtown Manhattan, ten blocks from the courthouse. He tells Norris to wait where he is, and then goes to a door and turns the knob counterclockwise. Through the partially open door, Norris can see it's bringing Mitchell back into what must be TAB headquarters.
Sellas arrives at Cedar Lake and asks the receptionist if the dance floor is open. She's looking to practice as a means of clearing her mind.
Mitchell arrives back in the pumping station with a briefcase. He explains to David that lower Manhattan has many layers of 'substrate:' a TAB term for a great many doors that have been added over time, almost like a maze. Even TAB cannot navigate downtown Manhattan as quickly or easily as further uptown. Sellas's wedding ceremony will be in a courthouse on 60 Centre Street. Mitchell's briefcase contains several blueprint books that will allow Norris to navigate the substrate, which will interfere with Thompson's ability to accurately track him.
The camera pans back and forth between Sellas dancing on the practice floor in Cedar Lake, and Mitchell and Norris studying the substrate blueprints. Mitchell gives a dire warning to Norris that soon as he passes through the first door, all of TAB will be on crash alert; an all-out manhunt to intercept him. Norris must trust nobody wearing any kind of hat or cap whatsoever. Even TAB members cannot use 'the doors' without wearing their hats; this, and the effect water has on them, are measures taken by the Chairman to limit their power. Norris comes up with another way; improvisation, such as knocking the hat off Thompson's head if Thompson manages to cut him off at a particular door... and making a bold, risky run through an exposed area in complete defiance of what TAB would expect him to do.
Morning arrives, and it's raining again, which Mitchell points out is a good sign. The wedding is in ten minutes, but Mitchell warns Norris that getting there early will be as bad as getting there late. He leads Norris to a doorway that will lead into the courthouse, and gives his hat to Norris.
Norris runs through a door and makes a bold run through the rain. TAB members rush to mobilize; one of Thompson's subordinates pointing out that Norris is using the rain as cover, showing he knows its effect on TAB. Thompson thinks, and tells one of his men to call the proctor at the wedding. As Norris runs, Thompson and two men with him note with alarm that Norris has a TAB hat and has gone into the substrate.
Sellas is met by Adrian at the courthouse. She tells him she needs a minute in the bathroom before the ceremony. As Adrian and Sellas's witness sit in the courtroom, a TAB member walks in to keep watch.
Norris arrives at the courthouse; Sellas's witness/girl friend telling him that Sellas is not there. Norris presses her to find out where Sellas is, and walks into the bathroom. Sellas is shocked to see Norris enter. She lashes out at him emotionally for the way he hurt her by walking out on her at the hospital, as he desperately tries to plead for forgiveness.
Just then, the TAB member keeping watch at the wedding courtroom walks in. Norris promptly turns and knocks him out with a punch. Completely desperate, Norris finally defies the most dire order given him about not revealing the existence of TAB. He tells Sellas about them and their role in keeping him apart from her. He picks up the TAB member's plan book and shows it to Sellas.
Thompson's men quickly notice this. Thompson calls for the Intervention Team to be brought in for a square-one reset, and a whole contingent of TAB people rush to mobilize under Thompson's command.
Sellas stands, reeling with confusion at everything happening. Norris finally puts on his hat, takes Sellas by the hand and opens a door in the rest room, leading her through it... onto the field of Yankee Stadium. And then through another door leading them to the stairway of a Manhattan subway station. Norris knows that Thompson will have called for a Reset on him and is urgently trying to think of a way to outrun and outwit him. Thompson and his team enter the bathroom Norris and Sellas had left and locate them running down Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.
Norris finally bring Sellas onto Liberty Island, making them temporarily safe. Sellas's head reels with bewilderment, even as Norris tells her more about why TAB is pursuing them and why they've worked so hard to keep the two of them apart, how neither of them will see all of their greatest goals and ambitions come to pass if they stay together. Finally Norris comes up with an idea. He resolves to go into TAB headquarters and try to find the Chairman to make a direct appeal to him. He tells Sellas that he's giving her a choice. If she declines to go with him, she'll never see her or TAB again and her life can go on as it's been going on. If she goes with him, he doesn't know what's on the other side, but they'll be together, which is the only thing he's wanted since meeting her. Sellas looks at Norris for a long moment before nodding and telling Norris she's coming with him.
Norris goes to another door into the base of the Statue of Liberty, telling Sellas that the two of them must turn each of the knobs counterclockwise. As the two of them enter TAB headquarters, both Thompson and Mitchell notice; Thompson's face registering total shock, and Mitchell sighing gravely.
Norris and Sellas run through a TAB study room; Thompson and team hot on their heels. Being on TAB's home turf and having no idea which way to run, other than to turn all doorknobs to the left to stay within the HQ building, puts Norris at a major disadvantage. Thompson's team methodically cuts them off again and again, forcing them to continually change direction and backtrack.
Mitchell is handed a folder by a superior and told that he's wanted in the Chairman's office immediately.
Norris and Sellas finally find themselves on the rooftop of the TAB headquarters building. The Intervention Team is closing in and there is nowhere left to run. Thinking the end has come upon them, Norris and Sellas share what they think is a final, emotional goodbye hug and kiss.
As they pull back, the Intervention Team is no longer there. They're alone on the rooftop... for only a moment, until Thompson is standing behind them, asking if they truly thought they could reach the Chairman. He admonishes them for thinking they could change their fate, or write their own.
Until Mitchell comes up to Thompson, showing him a folder. Thompson looks at it, quietly says, 'I understand,' and walks away. Mitchell tells Sellas and Norris that their appeal to the Chairman worked, even if they didn't reach him; he says that almost everyone meets the Chairman once in their lives, in one form or another. The Chairman saw how unswervingly devoted Norris and Sellas were to each other and was inspired enough to re-write their plan again, allowing them to stay together and be happy.
As Norris and Sellas walk down the street, ready to face whatever their new life together has in store for them, a voiceover from Mitchell closes the movie, telling the audience that maybe the Chairman's real plan is to gradually find those people bold enough to defy whatever fate seems to have in store for them, and give them the opportunity to seize control of it themselves... that maybe one day, humanity will each write their own plan, once again.