Tag Archives: Thriller films

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) 

Enemy (2014)

5 Jun

Filmed before but released after 2013’s breakout thriller Prisoners and also starring Jake Gyllenhaal, director Denis Villeneuve takes the road of the arthouse in his new film EnemyBased on a similar premise to this year’s fantastic comedy The Double, Enemy focuses on one man who comes across what appears to be his exact copy.  Gyllenhaal plays Adam, a university professor who spends his days teaching history and his nights with his lover Mary (Melanie Laurent).  His life is one of repetition; a cycle of rhythms  consisting of school, food and sex. His cyclical and comfortable lifestyle is interrupted when a coworker recommends a film that has an exact lookalike as Adam in the background. We soon find out this actor is named Anthony (who is also played by Gyllenhaal), and he curiously doesn’t live too far from where Adam works. The rest of the film becomes a hazy mess of events that spiral out through the interactions between Anthony the actor and Adam the spectator, and eventually concludes with a complex examination of the duality inherent in everyone.

Enemy is a dark, cryptic, and brooding film that relies heavily on atmosphere and tone. Lying somewhere in between the styles of Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg, Villeneuve makes incredible use of lighting, music, and color to give us a mysterious and puzzling look into the lives of these duplicate characters.  The film becomes a sort of Freudian gaze into the subconscious when Gyllenhaal’s two characters each try to manipulate each other and each other’s woman. Wrought symbolism, tension, and the ongoing threat of violence, Enemy is not your everyday film, and many people will be frustrated by the film’s lack of focus on plot and character. I think the film has more to say that it initially lets on however, and multiple viewings and discussions will prove to be useful.  Enemy is an artful delight filled with various puzzles and meanings, and while it might prove to be too complex for some, it’s still provocatively thoughtful in its execution.

Rating 9/10 

Similar to: Mulholland Drive, Cosmopolis, Under The Skin

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