Review: Predestination

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I have a (not so secret) addiction to time travel stories.  As a kid I grew up reading them, watching them on shows like the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits.  One of my favourite writers was Robert A. Heinlein and from his story ‘All You Zombies’ Predestination (2014) was born. 

This was the third film by the Spierig brothers whose second film, Daybreakers, I am quite fond of as well.  The plot revolves around a temporal policeman (Ethan Hawke) who is traveling through time as he attempts to stave off a horrific bombing in New York City.  Interspersed is the introduction of Jane (Sarah Snook) whose own destiny is inexorably intertwined with his.  The film nimbly dances around the questions of free will versus predetermination with a side helping of causality to top it off.  And that part is fascinating and thought provoking for sure but what really makes this film shine for me are the characters struggle to understand the world that unfolds around them. They are both victims and perpetrators of their fates desiring happiness, love and the life they dreamed of.  

All time travel stories struggle against the same thing, namely they create a world and a set of rules their characters must deal with the added complication of time itself as another character.  Most commercial films set up time travel as a plot device and then immediately break those rules to suit the contrivances of the plot. The really good ones (Primer, Looper and 12 Monkeys for example) don’t. They respect the framework and by extension the suspension of disbelief they have asked of their audience.  Predestination satisfies on all accounts and represents the best of the genre.

More info & links:

  • Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
  • Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Christopher Kirby
  • Predestination on IMDB

Blair Campbell

Film Reviewer

Blair Campbell is a graduate of the television broadcasting program at Algonquin College in Ottawa. A long-time fan of everything film-related, he is passionate about independent films and works as a producer focused on providing support to local, independent filmmakers. Production credits include A Clean Slate, The Gift, Pot Bound, Heartless, and Claire and Joseph.  Blair is also a board member of Ottawa Festivals where he advocates for emerging film festivals in Ottawa.