Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Elise Jansen, Freya Stafford, Christopher Kirby, Alexis Fernandez, Cate Wolfe, Madeleine West, Jim Knobeloch
Release dates: 8 March 2014
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions
A man walks into a bar at the beginning of Predestination, the impressive new science-fiction movie from Australian filmmaking siblings Michael and Peter Spierig, and the result is anything but a joke. Loopy in structure as opposed to tone, the tightly wound plot uses time travel to almost surreptitiously examine notions of fate and what choice we truly have in the person we become.
To be forewarned is to be disarmed with Predestination. Suffice to say the bar in question is in 1975 New York, where a terrorist named The Fizzle Bomber has the city on edge, and The Bartender (Ethan Hawke) is expecting his patron, a John who was once a Jane (Sarah Snook). His story about being her – the tale of an unfulfilled life marked by abandonment – is remarkable, but that’s nothing compared to what the The Bartender has in the building’s basement.
Time-travel movies are often loose and uncertain, befitting a reality where nothing is fixed, but in a work that easily surpasses their previous collaboration with Hawke, the 2009 vampire flick Daybreakers, the Spierig Bothers create a momentum out of obsessiveness and destiny that results in a tragic certainty. Having Noah Taylor as the inscrutable Mr Robertson, who is monitoring, or perhaps manufacturing, the situation, only adds to the building sense of dread.
Jane was born in 1945, abandoned at an orphanage by one of many figures in the film whose faces you don’t initially see, and remains a woman struggling in a man’s world even when she becomes a man. Snook (Not Suitable for Children) undergoes a remarkable physical transformation here, but it’s the deep clarity of her emotional evolution that matters. She’s haunting as someone desperate for fulfillment.
Adapted from a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein short story, the narrative in Predestination jumps as far forward as 1993, but the movie’s look is imaginative as opposed to overwhelming, forsaking blockbuster trappings. Hawke and Snook anchor the knotty storyline and you eventually realise key lines have a double meaning, and that every occurrence fastidiously ties together.
That may be the film’s flaw. It’s so concise that barely a moment feels extraneous; every time something happens it’s for a reason, and the movie never exhales. But while it’s a puzzle, figuring it out shouldn’t overshadow the dramatic purpose of the finale. All life’s choice may be for nothing, Predestination suggests, which does make for a joke, albeit one that is very black. @http://www.smh.com.au/
The film chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to prevent future killers from committing their crimes. Now, on his final assignment, the Agent must stop the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time and prevent a devastating attack in which thousands of lives will be lost.
Trailer for Predestination