“Predestination” – Movie Review

So, I just finished watching Predestination, starring Ethan Hawke.

**Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers Spoilers**

From IMDB:

The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

Directors: Michael Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers), Peter Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers)

Writers: Michael Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers), Peter Spierig (as The Spierig Brothers), Robert Heilein (short story “All You Zombies”)

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylorpredestination

When I watched this, I had no idea that it was based on a Robert Heilein short story from 1958, so please: remember that this is a review of the movie. If I can get my hands on a copy of the story, maybe I’ll do a comparison of the two, since we all know how much Hollywood loves to mess up quality material.

Anyway, Ethan Hawke plays the Barkeep, who we know by no other name, but who we know is the temporal agent investigating and attempting to stop a terrorist the FBI calls the Fizzle Bomber.

As with any time travel story or film, consistency and attention to detail are key to maintaining the reader/viewer’s belief in what is going on.

On that score, Predestination scores. It is a solidly put together piece of time-line chicanery which the writers/directors keep well in hand. As a writer and editor, I really appreciate the time and effort they put in to keeping everything straight.

Except

There’s always an except, isn’t there, when you’re talking about time travel? In my review of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (HERE), I focused on the fact that even Nolan could not escape the seemingly inescapable paradox of a timeline fulfilling it’s own destiny, of providing its own past, so that it’s own future might exist to save itself.

Predestination takes that issue even farther, going farther than even Nolan or James Cameron’s Terminator problem.

Did I mention that there might be some Spoilers in here? If not consider this your last warning.

Not content with simply sending someone back in time to ensure that a future event happens or doesn’t happen (creating the now-classic paradox of time travel “what if you killed your grandfather?”), Predestination goes one step farther, creating an entire human being out of whole cloth, conceived in a vacuum, transported in a vacuum, and responsible for its own conception (in more ways than one, as we eventually learn).

Despite that, I really enjoyed this film. Ethan Hawke gives a great performance, as he nearly always does, portraying the Barkeep as a weary, borderline psychotic in pursuit of his ultimate goal: stopping the Fizzle Bomber.

Sarah Snook, who I had never seen before (to my knowledge), was excellent as John, unwitting partner to the Barkeep, and pivotal to the plot on multiple levels, and as….

Well, I won’t give everything away. I was able to put together a good many of the plot points accurately, but sometimes I felt like I got some of them in the wrong order, meaning that I got them figured out before the directors may have wanted me to, instead of in the “predestined” order in which they might have been more naturally intended.

I recommend Predestination as a nice piece of escapist sci-fi, with good performances and excellent direction.

4/5 stars.

 

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