Adaptation Capsule Review

'Predestination' Toronto After Dark Capsule Review

October 22, 2014Ben MK


Back to the Future may have set the bar for time travel sci-fi, but at the same time it's hard to argue against a movie like Timecop. After all, what's not to like about the Muscles from Brussels as a kickboxing, time-traveling cop? Fast forward two decades, and here we are again, with another film that, at a glance, appears to be in the same vein. But though it may be tempting to discount the Spierig Brothers' Predestination — a movie about a temporal agent trying to stop a criminal mastermind — as just another piece of throwaway sci-fi filmmaking, it's really the furthest thing from.

Adapted from Robert A. Heinlein's "All You Zombies", the story is tricky to synopsize without spoilers, but the broad strokes of it have Ethan Hawke playing said temporal agent, in pursuit of the mysterious "Fizzle Bomber", a mass murderer who's eluded capture time and time again. True to the movie's tagline — "To save the future, he must reshape the past." — he's sent back to 1970 New York City, five years before the bomber strikes his most vicious blow. There, he meets John (newcomer Sarah Snook, in a gender-bending role), a man of crucial importance to the cause, and sets about trying to convince him to join the Temporal Bureau.

As the film progresses, the pieces of its puzzle gradually fall into place, and we begin to realize how the lives of John, our temporal agent and the Fizzle Bomber are intertwined. Suffice to say, the revelations are mind-bending and will come completely out of left field for anyone unfamiliar with the source material. Much more intelligent and emotionally resonant than your average save-the-world-through-time-travel movie, Predestination reflects the core themes of Heinlein's original short story — concerning the immutability of destiny — through a skillfully constructed narrative and wonderfully acted performances from Hawke and (especially) Snook. But for simplicity's sake, you can just think of it as the time-travel genre's answer to Fight Club.

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