If there’s one genre of film that opens itself up to a constant barrage of theories and dissection by audiences, it’s science fiction. That’s mainly because science fiction allows for the type of storytelling that doesn’t necessarily have all the answers. Quite often there are holes to be filled in by audiences, and if the story is told well, then the film will work regardless of how those holes are filled once all is said and done.
Predestination stars Ethan Hawke as a time-traveling Temporal Agent, whose job it is to go back in time and stop crimes before they happen. While the plot sounds somewhat reminiscent of Minority Report, it’s much more contained than that. The focus here is on character much more than it is action, with a lot of the story being told primarily through flashbacks by Sarah Snook’s character.
On his final mission, Hawke (who’s character has no name so I’ll just refer to him as Hawke) is sent back in time to stop the one enemy who has always been one step ahead of the agents — The Fizzle Bomber. This is someone who constantly changes the date of his biggest explosion that kills tens of thousands of people, always eluding capture. In fact, the film begins with Hawke’s agent getting the closest he’s been to capturing the Fizzle Bomber, only to be caught in a partial blast himself before escaping back to the safety of the future.
Now, back in the past Hawke gets a job as a barkeep. It’s here that he meets a lonely male patron (Snook) who introduces himself as The Unmarried Mother, the writer of confessional stories for a popular magazine. The Unmarried Mother bets Hawke a bottle of liquor that he’s got the craziest story Hawke has ever heard, which is where the real heart of the story of Predestination begins. He tells the story of his life, and how everything that happened to him has made him the person he is today. There’s so much more that could be delved into in terms of the story, but as is often the case with these types of films, the less you know going in, the better.
I will say that the trailer makes Predestination look like a time travel romp filled with action, and suspense; however, potential viewers should know going in that it’s much more a sci-fi drama that sprinkles mystery and tension throughout. That said, I wouldn’t say the wool was pulled over the audiences eyes with said trailers, as this is an incredibly difficult film to properly explain, let alone sell!
Predestination does border on overwhelming its audience with juggling too many sci-fi devices over the course of its runtime; however, the film is so engrossing that it’s somewhat forgivable. The film is based off the short story “All You Zombies,” by Robert Heinlein, so there are always going to be liberties taken to expand such a story, all while trying to stay true to the material that the film was based. The Unmarried Mother’s story is always interesting, and Snook delivers a mesmerizing performance that helps make it so. While some viewers will figure certain things out before others, that doesn’t make the movie any less interesting, which is a credit to both the actors and the filmmakers.
Predestination is definitely a time travel trip worth taking, though be ready to spend a lot of time pondering over what it was you just watched, and what it all meant once the credits start to roll. The Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) have crafted a science fiction film that begs for multiple viewings, and luckily the stellar performances by Hawke and Snook make doing so that much easier.
The video transfer looks beautiful, with sharp visuals throughout. Even in the darker parts of the movie, there’s no muddy moments that bring you out of the film. On the audio side of things, the dialogue, sound effects and music mixes were all handled superbly, with no issues to be found that will ruin the experience.
On the special features front, there are a few small extras and one main feature that really gives fans of the film (or those looking for more information on it) almost all they could ask for:
Bloopers — Always fun to see bloopers, especially on a more serious film such as this one. They’re a fast watch at under two minutes in length.
A Journey Through Time — This featurette comes in at just under five minutes and is really an extremely brief piece that merely grazes the tip of a few topics touched upon in the bigger feature on the disc. This can be filed under “Just Skip It” if you plan on watching the next feature.
All You Zombies: Bringing Predestination To Life — Here’s the meat and potatoes of the extras, with this one coming in at an hour and sixteen minutes when pieced together. There are 11 sections to this feature that cover casting, pre-production all the way to finalizing the film. It’s a really interesting feature to watch, and may shed some light on some of the questions you have after watching the film. Just don’t expect straight up answers!
A Stage 6 Films Presentation Screen Australia Presents Predestination. Written & Directed by: The Spierig Brothers. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Christopher Sommers. Running time: 98 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: Feb. 10, 2015.
Tags: Ethan Hawke