This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 14th September 2014
This twisting, turning, time-travelling thriller about the ability to change the course of future events will leave you pondering long after the credits have rolled.
A stranger walks into a bar (and trust me, there’s none so strange as in this story). He begins to tell a tale that gets the attention of Ethan Hawke’s “Temporal Agent”. It involves an orphaned child; the devastation of first love; a terrorist bomber – all in all, a curious narrative which poses myriad questions that keep you absorbed as beautifully photographed flashbacks are interposed with the grim reality of Hawke’s present mission: to capture the bomber back in time before he can go on to perpetrate his crimes.
Following a similar conceit to Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report of pre-crime assessment and prevention, this too is based on a short story “All You Zombies”, with the film script written by the Australian Spierig Brothers, who also directed.
It’s a subtly Australian affair, with most of the cast hailing from that large island and Hawke the only recognisable Hollywoodite, but it is no less accomplished for its Antipodean provenance. The production is slick, the story well-paced (though you have to stay alert!), and even the conventions of the genre – the ticking clock, ostinato strings in the soundtrack, the bomber in trench coat and fedora who sounds rather like Batman – all contribute to its being a polished, fascinating story.
With a standout performance from the little-known Sarah Snook and Hawke signalling a long-awaited return to form (cemented by his recent turn in Boyhood), Predestination is commendable for engaging the brain as well as providing unmitigated entertainment.