Predestination Review: Time is a Loop…Or Something

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Awards season for 2014 films may still be going on, but interesting and well-made films for 2015 are starting to trickle in. Predestination, for example, is a noir/sci-fi hybrid low on action and high on big ideas.

Starring Boyhood‘s Ethan Hawke as a time traveling secret agent, Predestination quickly establishes the feel of a classic noir, complete with hard-boiled narration and dark and gloomy environments. He travels back to the ’70s to find someone who would become a future agent. Sarah Snook plays Jane, a woman doomed to become a man after complications from a caesarean section (just go with it). Once a man, Jane seeks revenge on the father of her kidnapped child, something Hawke’s John promises he can help with.

The entire first half of Predestination is Jane’s story told through flashbacks, where the second half delves deep into the time travel philosophies. This structure largely works, mostly because Snook, an unknown actress stateside from Australia, proves more than capable of carrying the film. Hawke, meanwhile, is a fine lead, but pales in comparison to his co-star.

The film switches gears just at the right time, bringing the action to where/when the characters are just as Jane’s story grows a little long. But then, we’re given three major twists, each weirder than the last. For all the intelligence the movie seemed to be boasting beforehand, these revelations will leave you scratching your head. This is where the philosophy fails and you’re kind of glad time travel doesn’t exist. It’s obvious what Predestination is trying to say, it just escapes all plausibility to say it. This isn’t a big comic book movie like X-Men: Days of Future Past that can get away with some leaps in the time travel logic, this is a small film seemingly based around realism. The tone is dark and super serious, but the twists are silly. 

Ultimately, we’re left with a decent, thought-provoking sci-fi thriller. Predestination isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t as well thought out as it thinks it is. But it is worth watching for Snook’s performance alone. The actress seems predestined for a bright future. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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