Published Oct 24, 2014Films about time travel are some of the trickiest ones to create as far as sci-fi subgenres are concerned — it's not so much about the execution as the believability of their narratives. Veer too far away from the realm of realism and you'll have a convoluted and overindulgent mess; stay on steady ground and the narrative device merely appears like window-dressing for a poorly thought-out character drama.
For every Back to the Future there's a Winter's Tale, but every once in a while a film comes along that rises above those that have come before it and creates a cinematic experience destined to be considered timeless. The Spierig Brothers' sci-fi thriller Predestination is such a picture. This is a swirling, intoxicating feature that never falls for the scientific pitfalls of other pictures and instead delivers an engrossing, delirious experience that will stick in the mind of viewers for quite some time.
Ethan Hawke stars as a nameless man, hired by a secret government agency, whose goal in life is to stop the Fizzle Bomber, a time-jumping killer who uses the agency's same technology to jump 53 years forwards and backwards through time, laying deadly blasts and decimating city blocks within seconds. After a near-fatal standoff with the anonymous anarchist, Hawke is sent to the early '70s to tend bar and plan his next interception. That's where he meets a penman known as the Unmarried Mother, a True Confessions-style writer we soon discover was once a woman and was nearly enlisted in the same government organization before health issues got in the way. He tells the story of a nondescript man who stole his child when he was still a woman and thus ruined their life forever. Convinced there's a connection between the writer, the kidnapper and the bomber, Hawke's character recruits the man to travel with him to the past and stop another catastrophe from happening.
It's a progressive and nourishing narrative not often seen in modern sci-fi, making this an enriching experience for both mindful (try to keep up with the layers upon layers of paradoxes created by the Spierigs here, whose story actually expands upon the basis of a short originally written by Robert A. Heinlein) and more mainstream viewers (although complex, the story isn't necessarily hard to follow along to).
It has been said (by the Alan Parsons Project, among others) that time flows like a river. If that's the case, then Predestination's storyline moves like a whirlpool, sucking viewers into nearly claustrophobic depths before expanding outwards and dragging them back in in for another ride.
(Stage 6 Films)