In Review: Predestination (2014)

by Maryann O'Connor on 24/02/2015


There is a wealth of potential film material to be found in the world of short fiction; some of the most enduring films have sprung forth from the pages of a short story or novella. The basic story of Predestination comes from a Robert A. Heinlein short called  ‘All You Zombies’, a tale of a time-travelling agent (Ethan Hawke) meddling in lives past, present and future. Sorry horror fans, definitely contains no zombies. The majority of the action takes place in a bar in 1970 where a newspaper columnist tells posing-as-barkeep Hawke how his life was ruined. There’s also a terrorist called the Fizzle bomber to be stopped before a final havoc is wrought upon New York City.

The film plays upon commonly held conceptions of the pitfalls of time travel, a feat which we are nowhere near accomplishing but well versed in because of Back to the Future and all the talk of tears in the space-time continuum. Based on that, the ideal time traveller would have to be of a very specific ilk, which Ethan Hawke’s character is revealed to be. The main issue with this is that not only is the central concept revealed early in the film, the concept is stretched further even than Robert A.Heinlein envisioned; a concept that was thin to begin with.

What we are left with is a sort of Frankenstein creation incorporating elements of a number of time travel films, Unbreakable and Albert Nobbs. It is not a happy combination and disbelief cannot be suspended at any point. The most interesting bit is the section most covered in the short story, how the writer came to be there at that point in time, and to that end Sarah Snook provides the best performance in the film despite some laughable elements. Aside from scripting issues, the look of the film is quite appealing, and the opening scenes are compellingly disturbing but this unease is swapped for other unease which is not half as enjoyable.

This is one short story which perhaps should have been left on the pages of a book. The intention and ambition to create an original time travel film was there from directing duo the Spierig brothers (Daybreakers, 2009) but that intention misfires badly, leaving nothing but a poorly scripted mess where a decent film could have been.

Maryann has awarded Predestination (2014) one Torch of Truth


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