Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Predestination (2015): Review

Predestination is a 2015 time travel movie. Directed by the Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers) and starring Ethan Hawke (Sinister, The Purge), Sarah Snooke (Jessabelle) and Noah Taylor (Submarine). The film was originally completed in 2014 and has been distributed over the last few years.

The movie opens with a "temporal agent" (Hawke) trying to prevent an explosion planted by "the fizzle bomber", resulting in horrific facial burns. The agent then travels back to 1970s New York where he poses as a bartender in order to recruit John/Jane (Snooke). Through a series of flashbacks, we learn the elaborate life story of Jane and how her life was ruined by one particular man. The agent offers to take Jane back in order to kill the individual on the condition that she take over his position in the Temporal Agency. She agrees, and the agents continue to bounce back and forth in time in an effort to stop both the man who ruined Jane's life as well as the fizzle bomber so that the agent may retire to mid 70s New York and live happily ever after.

Predestination is a slick and clever little sci fi movie and draws influence from indie movies like primer (2004) whilst also aiming for big budget stock like Minority Report (2002). I liked that there was no preamble and it threw you right in at the deep end to begin, with the time being taken to explain key points further down the line. The story is your usual time travel fare with some neat twists and plenty of paradoxes and strands set out in order to keep you thinking long after the credits roll. Extra praise should also be given for getting so much out of so few characters.

In terms of pacing, there were some problems, particularly with the amount of time being devoted to the flashback sequences versus how much actual time travel action occurred. As a result, the 3rd act feels a little rushed and underdeveloped and, when the film ended, I didn't really feel that it had been resolved to it's full potential. For example, what do the spacecorp do and how does Mr Robertson (Taylor) factor in to the bigger picture? I was also able to see several of the plot twists coming but maybe I've seen too many time travel movies for my own good.

Fans of time travel and convoluted sci fi (what I call "pen and pad sci fi") will get a kick out of this and it is an effective blend of the genre with more noir sensibilities in the tradition of Phillip K Dick. By the same token, There's nothing massively new on offer here and some of the more potentially mind bending twists ended up feeling a little predictable (I had the same feelings on Synchronicity earlier in the year). It sticks in the mind for a few hours but nowhere near as long as a good time travel movie should.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the movie? Are you a time travel fan?


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