Just when you think you’ve seen every which way of the ol’ time-travel plot, along comes a mind-bender of a film like Predestination to prove you wrong. There are twists upon twists and each time you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, you discover you don’t. And when all is said and done, you squirm, just a little. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.
Adapted by filmmaker brothers Michael and Peter Spierig from a 1950s short story by Robert Heinlein, it follows Ethan Hawke as an agent of a time-travel organization as he tries to stop a notorious bomber—and the only criminal to elude the organization—from killing thousands of people in New York City in 1975. Along the way, he attempts to recruit a jaded young man into the agency.
Such is the basic outline, anyway. To tell you more would be revealing too much. The particulars must remain vague. Suffice it to say you have not experienced a time-travel flick like this one. Calling it tricky would be an understatement, but once you figure it out—if you figure it out—your jaw will drop and your brain will reel and your stomach might just lurch.
The brothers Spierig, who also directed Hawke in the creative (and very bloody) vampire flick Daybreakers a few years ago, do a great job with the crazy narrative, being very careful with when and how they present the film’s “whaaat?” moments. They get a typically good performance out of Hawke, and a very good, even complex, one from the performer who plays the young man.
It helps, too, that they only had $3 million to play with. They couldn’t afford flashy effects (Hawke merely disappears when he time travels; gusts of wind herald his arrival) or big sets, and so are able to keep us focused on the fascinating story and characters. They still manage to imbue it all with a wonderfully retro feel, though. This flick’s time machine? It fits inside a violin case. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 2/10/15