Predestination (dir. The Spierig Brothers, 2014) – On his final assignment, a temporal agent must pursue the one criminal who has eluded him throughout time.
The Spierigs craft an intricate labyrinth with Predestination, a constantly rewarding experience of mind-bending brilliance.
The premise is simple enough. A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) travels through time to prevent the devastating attacks of an elusive terrorist. After yet another failed attempt, he returns to the past and takes on the identity of a barkeep for his final mission. There, he meets a mysterious man whom he sparks an unexpected conversation with. This is where the intrigue begins.
Driven by the complex quantum concept of time paradoxes, Predestination is a fascinating project of huge scope and audacious ambition. Directors Michael and Peter Spierig accomplish the daring effort with seeming ease, examining deeper themes of identity and freewill in an accessible thriller with tense portent.
Puzzle pieces fall neatly into place, and a timeline of abounding twists compels. Those familiar with Robert Heinlein’s All You Zombies will see what is coming, but the respectfully told story remains absorbing.
All credit is due to the directing pair. Their careful craft ensures graceful, precise reveals about its enigmatic characters. Among non-readers, there has to be at least a few awe-stricken faces nearing the film’s final moments.
Although the plot seems to be the star, it is truly Sarah Snook’s outstanding double role that turns heads. Engrossing in her emotional displays and brilliant in altering timbre, the stunning lead actress shows exceptional range and lends great credibility to an incredible story.
There is only admiration for those who dare take on this convoluted narrative. Temporal paradoxes are after all improbable puzzle cubes, with possible side effects of aneurysms. Thankfully, the Spierig Brothers handles the subject with such delicate intricacy and dexterity, leaving us excited for their future visions.
One of the best exemplification of paradoxes in film, Predestination may have its fair share of scathing critics. But the risk largely pays off in this lasting and thought-provoking genre entry. Built upon a clever structure akin to the wit of Timecrimes and Triangle, there are plenty of reasons to revisit this unpredictable opus.
Any criticism on logic is a nitpick, for most time travel tales do not deserve even half of such flak. As a revered timelord once explained, or tried to, time is after all much like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff.