Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Plot: A time travelling spy (Hawke) chases after a bomber through time, ending up in a 70s bar, where a transgender customer (Snook) might hold the answer to everything.
Predestination opens with a scene that meets most blockbuster Sci-Fis for nail-biting tension and action. A cloaked figure with a set of strange, futuristic tools storms into a shadowy warehouse. There is a bomb and he must stop it. However, the bomber is still there, a shootout taking place. Disaster strikes and we are taken back to Ethan Hawke’s gravelly voice time agent explaining his job. He is a temporal agent, a special kind of spy that travels through time catching bad guys. The one guy he let get away was the Fizzle Bomber, the shooter in the opening scene, and he has one last stab at redemption. One more mission to take down the sonofabitch and save countless lives.
And then we cut to the same agent, dressed in a 70s shirt, tending a downtown local bar. The next forty minutes of this movie, about half of the movie’s running time will be spent in this bar with Hawke’s agent, firmly undercover, his secret spy life never brought up, listening to one of his customers tell him their life story. It is a brave move and shows that the Spierig brothers trust the power of their material to downplay the brilliance of the script. As a result, we get a Sci-Fi thriller tinged with Noir (instantly making it my kind of movie), but done on a budget. Because the few set-pieces soak up the majority of the budget, it is never apparent that Predestination is put together by a group of unknown directors, using a relatively new yet promising actress in Sarah Snook and two veterans to the acting profession that often take a cut in pay if the story is there (Hawke and Tayor). And the truth is this is never a problem. Sure, the movie breaks totally away from its bomber story to become a character piece about Sarah Snook’s transgender astronaut-wannabe, but it is so powerful, it is never any less riveting. This is mainly due to a phenomenal, blowing-an-audience-out-of-the-water performance from Sarah Snook. She matches Hawke when it comes to the Noir stuff, rasping out narration with a voice that has been worn down by years of misery and setbacks. Her facial expressions are spot-on, whether she is the miserable bloke sitting at the end of the bar, the innocent and youthful space cadet or the heartbroken young girl, whose dreams are crushed due to her bizarre condition. There is a promising career for this girl waiting around the corner. Before you know it, the movie is half over and there hasn’t been so much of a second explosion.
Then the twists come. Thick and fast. Usually I hate telling readers whether a movie has a twist or not, because it is even better when you don’t know it is there. However, with a film like Predestination that prides itself on twists (as well as being a time travel movie – twists are a necessity rather than a possibility with the genre), this does not count as a spoiler. Besides, it is clear from the start that something is amiss. Sarah Snook’s story involves masked men and shadowy figures that will almost definitely come back to haunt us later on. Perhaps you will even get a few of the surprises before they happen, this film partially let down to due to a lack of access to red herrings. However, the way the story and reveals are told always allow a certain amount of shocks, as the reality of the situation becomes increasingly apparent. And the final montage throws everything into a new light that will either make or break Predestination for you. One thing is for certain: you will spend a few moments after this movie just reflecting on one of the most original Sci-Fi heroes to date.
Final Verdict: Low budget but you would never guess it, as Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke guide you through a beautifully told story.