A guy walks into a bar, and he says, “Ouch!”
Two guys walk into a bar – second guy should have seen it coming.
That joke your grandfather told you could easily double for the pitch to Predestination, the new paradoxical time travel riddle by Australian directing duo The Spierig Brothers.
Based on Robert A. Heinlein’s short story All You Zombies, Predestination sees an unnamed agent (Ethan Hawke) for the temporal agency leap through time to catch an elusive serial murderer known as The Fizzle Bomber before he destroys over ten city blocks in New York. The only problem is the bomber seems to be aware of the attempts to stop him, as he keeps changing the specific day and time of his latest catastrophe. While undercover as a bartender, Hawke’s agent strikes up a conversation with a suspicious male-seeming figure who we later learn is inter-sex (Sarah Snook), whose heartbreaking life story may have more to do with Hawke’s assignment than he initially realizes.
To give away much more would be irresponsible, though anyone familiar with the time travel sub-genre can easily deduce where the story is headed within the first twenty minutes. Even with that knowledge, Predestination‘s deftly-handled twists and turns are a joy to watch unravel.
Hawke has been quite game for genre fare lately, appearing in The Spierig Brothers’ sci-fi-horror Daybreakers and major genre favourites like Scott Derrickson’s Sinister. A movie star veteran with indie cred is more than apt for the complex role. Snook, meanwhile, pulls off a tightrope of emotion, as she journeys from a young tomboy to ruined woman to a bitter, cynical bar stool regular. So enraptured does the audience become by Snook’s life story that time-travel takes a backseat to the deeply human drama.
Predestination is a time travel story equipped with all the plot twists and reveals you’d expect. However, it’s an oddly personal entry in the genre; a film suggesting that perhaps there’s more than one reason to fear living in a world with no history, or a world that strictly abides to structure.
— Kenny Hedges