Predestination is a sci-fi mind-screw that is rarely short on surprises and innovative ways to keep viewers guessing leading to a fascinating and unique thriller.
It’s the kind of unpredictably satisfying film we all assumed M. Night Shyamalan would still be capable of making had his directing acumen not gone so decidedly sideways.
Directors/Screenwriters Peter and Michael Spierig adapt Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” (Read here: All You Zombies-“: Five Classic Stories by Robert A. Heinlein) into a fascinating sci-fi effort that defies genre conventions.
A time-traveling agent (Ethan Hawke, Boyhood (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)) has nearly completed his assignments and is preparing for retirement, but he’s got one last mission to wrap up. A notorious criminal known as The Fizzlebomber is set to unleash his masterstroke bomb that will kill thousands unless the agent can track him down and stop him.
After failing to stop The Fizzlebomber in a previous attempt, the agent is severely wounded and given one last shot at bringing him to justice. The agent travels to 1975 and gets a job as a bartender while he awaits the fateful date of his encounter.
Time travel films are always dicey as they can quickly get too complicated and confusing for the viewer, but The Spierig Brothers keep the story fairly linear thanks to a bold decision to set the majority of the film in a bar.
Yes, a time traveling movie keeping the time traveler in a bar sounds crazy, but The Spierig Brothers’ risk pays off thanks to the arrival of a man with an unbelievable story to tell about a woman named Jane (Sarah Snook, Jessabelle [Blu-ray]).
Jane grew up in an orphanage and endured a challenging childhood as she struggled to fit in with her peers until given an opportunity to be someone special thanks to the mysterious Mr. Robertson (Noah Taylor, Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (Blu-ray + DVD)).
Snook has largely done TV series, but has a warm, inviting presence that makes her seem strangely familiar. By the film’s conclusion, it’s impossible not to come out thinking Snook is going to be a major star if given more quality films to showcase her talents. When Hawke has a good project he can provide terrific performances and he gets another juicy role here.
The Spierig Brothers, who previously collaborated with Hawke on Daybreakers, adeptly switch audience expectations midstream from an exciting action-packed chase through time to a captivating and tragic tale of Jane’s life told like a twisted fairy tale.
There’s a confident assuredness in the storytelling and the pace feels just right. They’re able to keep dangling the mystery without making the experience frustrating. Fortunately the payoff is worth the buildup.
The film evokes themes from Shyamalan’s Unbreakable [Blu-ray] and Looper (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray], another fascinating recent mind-trip involving time travel. Is the agent learning the origin of The Fizzlebomber and what made him hate humanity or just coincidentally meeting a down on his luck guy looking to drink away his troubles?
Anything more would delve too deep into spoiler territory. Whatever your theory, it’s doubtful you’ll decipher the mystery until the end credits and even then, you’ll likely have questions and want to watch it all over again.
Predestination is a daring sci-fi thriller that thankfully isn’t afraid to be unconventional with its cleverly conceived concept and fantastic execution.
For a greater adrenaline rush, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will no doubt deliver, but for a more cerebral challenging flick, mark this your destination for sci-fi goodness.
Rating: 9 out of 10
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