Movie Review: Predestination

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A time traveling law enforcement officer meets a mysterious young man while hunting his nemesis.

starsthreepointfive

The Spierig Brothers, 2014

This is going to be such a difficult movie to review without giving any spoilers. Basically, Ethan Hawke plays a time traveling secret agent whose mission is to stop crimes before they happen. After a serious accident and a growing obsession with criminal The Fizzle Bomber, he comes to the point where he is given his final mission. This mission involves Sarah Snook, who claims to have the best story that’s ever been told. As they talk, a mystery unfolds.

predestination

While I enjoyed watching this movie, I feel like the original story is actually unfilmable. I think this movie was the best they could do as a live-action version (casting qualms aside), but the nature of the original story is such that it’s not a movie you can make 100% convincingly with our current technologies, or maybe with any technologies ever. It promotes some of the more intriguing concepts inherent in time travel, but it’s sci fi light enough to appeal to everyone. I do strongly recommend everyone go see it, because it’s something that is unique and fascinating, and you might never get another chance to see a time travel film quite like this one. Sarah Snook puts in a fantastic performance and easily out-acts both Ethan Hawke and an accent-challenged Noah Taylor. Her story is one that is absolutely riveting, and in spite of barely seeing any time travel in the first half of the movie, it’s easily the best part, Snook’s story unfolding in flashback. It has really interesting things to say about gender and how women are treated in society, and Snook is magnetic.

Aesthetically, the movie is terrific. Shot in Australia, it has a 70s noir vibe, smoky and gin-soaked and dark. There are trenchcoats and hats, shadowy figures, rainy nights and some brilliant 60s costumes. The time travel prop – a violin case – is low-tech simplicity done right, and the pieces of the whole come together nicely. There is, however, a feeling that the Spierig brothers don’t think much of the intelligence of their audience. After all the big twists have long been easily figured out, they have big “reveal” moments where the music gongs and flashback scenes explain things you already know. It’s not too bad the first couple of times, seeing how things fit together, but it starts to wear towards the end of the film. The last act, though directly addressing the themes and questions the movie raises, is by far the weakest, and the ending is abrupt. It’s a short run-time (the ten-page short story it’s based on, Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies”, is padded out significantly), and it moves along well enough. If you’re looking for challenging, interesting sci fi, this is definitely worth your time and money.

Predestination on IMDb

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