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Monday, 20 April 2015

Predestination

My first venture into the world of time travel wasn’t with a movie, game or book. No, instead it really happened to me. Well, not really, but to my young mind I thought I actually did time travel. I’m probably going to regret even telling this, but hey, I’d like to think you’re all pretty close to me by this point, so f*ck it. I was around 4 or 5. My three older brothers at the time somehow convinced me that they could send me through time, so I thought, sure, why not, right? They told me to close my eyes, and they then proceeded to spin me around on the spot. When I stopped and opened my eyes everything looked the same. The only difference was that my brothers were hunched over and covering their faces. “Welcome to the future, Den. We’re your brothers. But we’re old now, so you shouldn’t look at us”. I wasn’t buying it, and promptly resorted to the classic Irish line, “I’m tellin’ ma!”. I ran around the house but couldn’t find either of my parents. My brothers caught up with me and said, “Den, they’re dead. They died ages ago”. I freaked the f*ck out and started crying, completely believing that I was in the far, far future. Seeing this my brothers decided to send me back in time, so I closed my eyes and they spun me. When I opened my eyes they said, “Welcome back, Den. How was it? Ma and da are at the shops, by the way”. Bastards. So yeah, my first and only real-life instance of time travel was traumatizing. And oh yeah, Predestination is about time travel, so let’s talk about that?


Directed by the Spierig brothers and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes Predestination, a complete mind-f*ck of a film. The Spierig brothers’ previous film was Daybreakers, a superb and disturbing take on the vampire genre, so when Predestination popped up on my radar I had to check it out. This is one of those films that even talking too much about the plot will ruin it, or at least some of the plot twists and turns. So don’t worry, I’ll try and keep it spoiler free, but that may make this review look like I’m dancing around getting into the nitty and gritty of the film.


Predestination is based upon the short story All You Zombies, which was published in 1959 and written by famed author Robert A. Heinlein. The film naturally takes some creative control with the plot, but it largely presents a pretty honest, modern and respectful take on the short story. The plot follows a “temporal agent”; essentially a police officer that travels through time, and his mission to prevent a terrorist from detonating a bomb that wiped out a lot of innocents. He travels back to the 70’s and takes on the guise of bartender in order to gain info on the potential bomber, but upon the arrival of a strange woman at the bar, both the bartender and the woman lives are turned upside down. That’s all I can say without giving too much away, but let’s just say it involves a lot of time travel, major plot twists and once the credits start rolling, you’ll want to restart the entire film all over again.

The beauty of Predestination lies in its direction, story and performances. The Spierig brothers have crafted a wonderful world here, regardless of the time and era the film jumps to. It’s believable and grounded in reality, but doesn’t fall into the typical sci-fi pitfall of, “It looks great, but it’s a shame about everything else!”. Everything else is superb, and Predestination contains a story that will literally grip you to your seat. It’s the kind of film that as you watch it you want to know more, you want to let these characters talk about their past, and you want to see how it all comes together. The story is held together by the two main performances by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook, who very easily make great use of the excellent material at hand. It goes without saying that Ethan Hake is great here, as he always brings a wonderful presence to the screen. However, the real standout performance is from the newcomer Sarah Snook. Without ruining too much, Snook plays multiple characters in Predestination, and the overall performance she gives throughout the film is heart breaking and moving.


Overall Predestination is a great sci-fi flick. However, it’s not a film that you’re meant to watch with your brain turned off. It’s smart, hard to follow but ultimately a very worthwhile and enjoyable tangle of time threads to unravel.

Predestination is a time travel film done right and gets a 4/5.

★★★★☆

Denis Murphy


Predestination at CeX


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