Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Directed by: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Time travel has always been a tricky thing to get right in the movies; stop and think about it for too long afterwards and one is bound to find themselves in a tangled web of paradoxes, quantum entanglements, alternate timelines and everything else that goes along with it.
But there is no denying time travel as an appealing feature in the world of science fiction. Questions of free will and predetermined outcomes have always made for intriguing debate. If time travel were possible then would any of our choices truly matter or are we mere zombies destined to walk blindly along a predetermined path? It’s a hallmark of the genre that has been addressed time and time again, and it’s clear to see why it fascinates and infuriates so much.
Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies, Predestination is a film that threatens to infuriate with its time jumping logic, but thanks to a smart and ambitious script and stylish direction, it’s a film that will have you hooked right up until its final moments. The story follows Ethan Hawke’s time travelling police officer or ‘Temporal Agent’ as he jumps through different time zones to stop a mass murderer known only as the Fizzle Bomber. To divulge any more would be to welcome spoilers and Predestination is a film that requires no pre-conceived ideas.
After cutting their teeth on genre pieces such as Aussie zombie schlock fest The Undead, and the woefully uneven vampire tale Daybreakers, the Spierig Brothers have managed to evolve as filmmakers, crafting a very human story amidst a time travel movie that, while never feeling entirely fresh, is a gripping and moving affair. While Ethan Hawke is as reliable as ever, this film belongs to Sarah Snook. Much of the action focuses on Snook’s orphaned Jane, and the actress delivers a star making turn with a grace and vulnerability that lights up the screen whenever she appears.
The film’s plot is full of twists, turns and revelations that one should spot from a mile away, but it never stops it from being any less gripping. The Spierigs’ keep things focused on the human aspect, never letting their characters slip into the shadows or fall victims to the paradoxes of time travel. It doesn’t matter that it’s never made clear how it works; for it is the people of this world that hold our attention.
Predestination highlights a remarkable evolution for its writer/directors. Ambitious in its design and gripping until its final moments, it is above all else a story of human beings questioning our fate, of us mere zombies challenging the path that we find ourselves on.
Rich, smart and highly engaging, the plot may not be as fresh and original as it should be, but it is an ambitious and masterfully executed work that really deserves to be more widely seen.