Faithfully adapted from Robert Heinlein’s short story “—All You Zombies—“, the story encompasses Ethan Hawke’s character, who is a Temporal Agent with ability to travel through time, on course to stop a mad bomber nicknamed “Fizzle Bomber” in the 1970s New York. He first comes into the picture when he is trying to disarm the latest explosive rigged by the madman, but it literally blows up in his face and later, requires an extensive surgery that leaves him in the image of Hawke. The next cryptic mission takes him back in time.
While serving as a bartender, a guy, who works as a confession writer under the pseudonym of “Unmarried Mother” (Sarah Snook) walks in and tells a spellbinding story of his (or her) miserable life – obviously has nothing to do with the case but it takes up the whole first half of Predestination. After finishing his story, the bartender takes “Unmarried Mother” back in time to give him a chance to assert revenge on the men who destroyed his earlier life, while the bartender proceeds to the future to try to stop the bomber once more.
Predestination is not a conventional science-fiction movie that takes thing lightly. Much like the big movie such as Cloud Atlas and Looper, this noir sci-fi flick has daring themes and thought-provoking elements painted all over. The Spierig Brothers have an uphill task of translating the short story into an expansive material to fit into the talented cast they have, but they have indeed done an outstanding job here. The story is written and constructed so well, so complex and so meticulous, that proves to be a giant victory given the size of this arthouse production. And you do get that there is a sort of parting feeling in the movie, but is in fact, well-balanced in delivering the fate and tragic, idea and emotional stories in between. The only odd thing is to go through a long subdued plot of pure dialogue that is not connected to the core story, but it always makes you so absorbed into the countless of flashbacks.
With that being said, this movie is basically split into two halves – one half is narrated with enough empathy by Sarah Snook, and another half by the grizzled and marvellous Ethan Hawke. The breakout performance by Sarah Snook is particularly amazing, given the tasks and transformations she has in her characters are no easy deal. Hawke has always been reliable in delivering a sort of gravitas and hooks on-screen, while having a chance to deal with the limited action sequences in Predestination.
While Predestination is a movie that requires you to be extra attentive and may not be your cup of tea, this third feature film by the Australian directors, are brilliant, daring and thought-provoking to tease your brain and to feel for the characters. B+
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