TAD 2014: Predestination
Time travel is a popular trope to use in movies, attempted countless times before. Often the story is over-complicated and poorly executed resulting in a film that is confusing and unfulfilling. Although it has a complex and layered story, Predestination is one in this genre that succeeds in a wholly compelling way. Directors Michael and Peter Spierig are able to keep a firm grasp on all the intertwining strings in this story and pull out a beautifully interwoven narrative that leaves the viewer pondering the implications of what they have just witnessed yet emotionally satisfied.
Based on the short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, this film tells the life story of a man simply known as The Bartender (Ethan Hawke). He works as a time-traveling Temporal Agent, working for a secret government organization that sends them back in an attempt to prevent crimes from happening. For his final assignment before retiring, he must pursue a criminal known as The Fizzle Bomber, a man who has continually eluded him. Along his journey he meets a mysterious man with quite an interesting tale to tell who turns out to be an integral player in The Bartender’s mission.
In order to competently and successfully pull off a story of this complexity, three key elements are needed. You need a tightly written script scrutinized from all angles, a director fully committed to understanding the message of the film and how all the pieces fit together, combined together with a cast of dedicated actors capable of embodying the vision being told. The Spierig Brothers have successfully united the entire crew to accomplish this goal. The film matches the impressive efforts of their previous film Daybreakers, as they continue to build an exciting body of work.
While Ethan Hawke does give an excellent performance in the film, the real standout on screen is Australian newcomer Sarah Snook. Throughout the film, it is clear that she is a versatile actor with a magnetic screen presence. At times unrecognizable, she shows great promise with her irresistible performance. Her character plays a crucial part in this story and, as the pieces begin to fit together, the audience can’t help but watch in silent admiration for what she has done here.
The magnificent score also adds a key element to the success of the overall film. It helps facilitate a dream-like, ethereal feeling consistent with the story being told. At times, combined with key moments in the plot, it also contributes to a sense of euphoric happiness in the viewer as the realization of what’s really going on begins to dawn on them.
This is a difficult film to discuss without going into details about the plot and what it’s really about. There is elegance to how it unravels that will likely leave the viewer yearning for a second viewing to better deconstruct the paradox but also with a sense of knowing that ultimately it all works. For fans of this genre, this is an excellent piece of entertainment well worth the viewing.
At one point, there is a line said to The Bartender by his boss that works better once the viewer has seen the complete film. It summarizes what has happened, the purpose of his journey, and really allows the viewer to better understand what they’ve just seen.
“You’re a gift, given to the world through a predestination paradox.”