Ahh, Time Travel movies. Rarely is anything learned, and even rarer is the happy ending. Unless you’re Bill & Ted, Marty McFly, or Captain Kirk. Most of the time there is death at the risk of disrupting the space-time continuum, or worse, like say apes with guns. Almost every movie that has time travel at the center share a common thread. Some one has to learn something about the universe, the world around them, but mostly about themselves. My favorite kind seem to usually fall in the more darker territory. Films, like “Timecrimes”, “Looper”, “Donnie Darko” and “Timeline”, wait, that was a different kind of dark. The Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) new film “Predestination” is a wicked mind-bender of a sci-fi flick based on a Robert A. Heinlein short story titled “All You Zombies-“.
Ethan Hawke plays a temporal agent who is out to stop a madman who has eluded him through time called the ‘Fizzle Bomber’. After he sustains an injury he is sent to recruit his replacement played by Sarah Snook. He meets her in a bar in 1970 where she tells him her story of how she went from a she to a he. It makes sense when you see it. And her story is pretty amazing, with the use of great cinematography, impressive set design, and an outstanding performance by Snook as Jane/John. When her story is finished she is given an opportunity to right a wrong in her life, but Hawke’s character has an ulterior motive for helping her/him as he intends to once and for all to use his recruitment process to stop the ‘Fizzle Bomber’ once and for all time.
Though the Spierig Brothers have only made a few films, they seem to be getting better with every one. Here they took an interesting story and added a side story that could have been developed a little more, but when you see the outcome, you know why they keep the mystery. That being said, if you are a fan of time travel films you will see the major plot points and ending coming a mile away. It’s difficult to try to remain simple with few characters as possible and still make some complex points about the nature of time and like I said what can be learned about ourselves. Hawke is pretty solid, though I could have used a little more Noah Taylor as a supervisor in the Temporal Agency. He is doing his best ‘Cigarette-Smoking Man’ from “The X-Files”, maybe a little more from his perspective would have made the film a little more engaging. Again the reason to watch is Snook’s performance who says so much in her expressions and conveys so much in her quiet moments she is the highlight of Predestination.
As for the time travel aspects of the film, I give the brothers Spierig massive credit for trying to be as original as possible with a subject matter that has made us all pseudo-scientists on the rules of time travel. Their recognizable movie tricks however need some work. And while it doesn’t qualify as one of the greats, “Predestination” is certainly original and entertaining enough to be one to watch if you’re a fan of the disruption of a timeline. Again not “Timeline” the movie, that one is terrible.
–Robert L. Castillo