Predestination (2014)

16 Jan

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? It’s a question that has plagued philosophers for centuries, but never been presented quite so vividly as in the Australian thriller Predestination.

Directed by the Spierig brothers and starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor and newcomer Sarah Snook, the film takes place at an unknown time in the future where time travel is illegal but certain men called loopers travel to the past in order to take care of crimes before they have been committed.  OK – wait, that’s a different movie – but the setup is the same. Ethan Hawke plays the unnamed time traveler who travels back to take care of one last job before retiring. A terrorist known only as the Fizzle Bomber has killed hundreds and it’s up to our nameless hero to travel back in time and kill him before he can strike again…  thus resolving a terrorist act before its even committed.

Despite its high-minded ambition and “R” rating, Predestination has the look and feel of a major studio blockbuster aimed at young adults. The film’s first act is set up through an unnecessary framing device which acts as an audience conduit for the tricky time travel puzzles that await the last half. It’s a cool concept (something Christopher Nolan would be proud of) that grips the audience’s attention in the moment, but it’s only when thinking about the film afterwards when one realizes how preposterous it all is.

There are some half-hearted attempts to introduce some deeper material here, particularly with themes involving personal identity and gender roles, but they get washed out in the great semi-cerebral time/puzzle stuff. Your characters mostly exist for Inception-esc exposition; Noah Taylor’s character seems to pop up at just the right times to answer the audience’s questions and reassure everyone that what we are seeing does make logical sense afterall. Films like this always have their own set of rules and logic to follow and Predestination is no exception, and as with all time travel films, a great suspension of disbelief is required. It’s a fun trip overall, but there is some really interesting character material that should have been fleshed out more in the film’s third act. Despite it being mostly a surface level puzzle film that gains it’s awe from a cheap reveal (The Usual Suspects anyone?), Predestination is still a notable and ambitious film that showcases the talent of a new face (Sarah Snooke). It’s a good time travel film thats just teetering on the edge of being a great one – if only it wouldn’t pride itself more in its concept than execution.

Rating – 6/10 

Similar to: Looper (2012), Timecrimes (2007), Minority Report (2002) 

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