From the Australian directing duo, Peter and Michael Spierig, who brought us the rather strange and surprisingly good sci-fi/horror Daybreakers, comes another very unique film. Predestination is based on the short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, although don’t be fooled by the name: it has nothing to do with the brain-munching undead. Predestination tells the tale of an unnamed Temporal Agent, played by Ethan Hawke, whose job is to travel back and forth through time and pursue and stop criminals whose actions have dire ramifications on the future. On his last mission before retirement, this agent is after the one criminal that has managed to elude him his whole life, a terrorist known as the ‘Fizzle Bomber’. It is on this mission he meets John (Sarah Snook), who agrees to help this mysterious Temporal Agent with his task, in exchange for the opportunity to take revenge on someone from his past. But absolutely nothing is what is seems in this sci-fi mystery, and when time travel is involved, you know some butterflies are going to get stepped on.
This isn’t the kind of light-and-easy movie you want to watch on a tired Sunday afternoon. This movie truly messes with your brain, and after the movie is over you are left trying to do the calculations in your head, making sure that what you saw actually does make sense. And in a weird, futuristic kind of way, it does… mostly. For starters, from the beginning to the end this movie is hugely engaging. Ethan Hawke manages to effortlessly adopt any character he is given and he is so easy to watch on-screen, which helps in this film with digesting the hugely complex plot. But it is Sarah Snook, an Australian actress who is just breaking out in the industry, who really steals the show; she is incredible, mesmerising and extremely talented, particularly considering she has to play a man, which she does unexpectedly well. The Spierig brothers have also concocted an engrossing screenplay that really made the onscreen chemistry between Hawke and Snook shine, and the visual effects used when the characters travel from one time to another are very well done.
My issue with the film doesn’t have anything to do with the filmmaking, of which I think the Spierig brothers have done a very good job. My problem is with the plot, which is imaginative, but at the same time does utilise a couple of the major stereotypes associated with time travel. This is probably because All You Zombies was written in 1958 when these stories would have been very original, but since then have been worked and reworked over and over again. This caused the movie to be a little predictable at times, and most of the major twists I had already guessed before they were revealed.
In saying that, Predestination is still a very different movie, one that lovers of films such as Looper will enjoy. It is enthralling and interesting, and Sarah Snook’s incredibly unique character and performance is reason enough to take a look.
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