“What if I could put him in front of you, the man that ruined your life. If I could guarantee that you’d get away with it. Would you kill him ?”
Sigh! Where are those good old days you could enjoy a movie about time traveling like “Back to the future”,”The Terminator”,”Timecop” or recently “Looper” while lying relaxed in your seat without craving for a glass of aspirin as the film progresses ? The principle of paradoxes known to time traveling is cited in these films (like Michael J. Fox becoming blurry and the threat of disappearing because of his parents growing apart), but isn’t of primary importance for the entire motion picture. “Predestination” is something completely different and is put together pretty damn clever and shrewd. But I assure you, the numerous plot twists and interwoven time loops will make you completely dizzy. The film is a hard nut to crack and requires tremendous concentration. It’s a film where you go from one surprise to the next. It’s similar to the “chicken and egg” conundrum. At one moment you are very sure that the egg came first, but new developments and revelations make you doubt this fact again and you’ll revise your conclusion.
The film is based on the short story “All you Zombies” from A.Heinlein and tells the story of a “Temporal Agent” (Ethan Hawke) who, using an ingenious violin case, can travel back and forth again through time in order to prevent crimes . Especially that of the mysterious “Fizzle Bomber” who’s responsible for a destructive bomb attack in the 70’s in New York killing about 11,000 people. In a bar the agent, who is employed as a bartender, listens to the story of a certain John, who looks like a kind of Brian Molko from the 70’s. What comes next are some bizarre drawn out story lines which, as the film slowly proceeds, merge into one point to ensure an obvious highlight. I’m not going further into details because this would only reveal the intricate puzzle. Unfortunately the final denouement only evokes a “Ah that’s how it is” reaction. Eventually it’s just a quirky fictional story with an identity crisis as central topic. However I think that the level of difficulty of this film will be a bit of an obstacle for most spectators.
“Predestination” is a masterpiece on a different level. The created atmosphere and especially the performances are eye-catching. The 70’s are beautifully portrayed. The zeitgeist of that time with its authentic locations, fashion and music. But mostly, the performances by Ethan Hawke and for me the so far completely unknown Australian Sarah Snook made this film worth viewing. Ethan Hawke once again played a convincing role after his less memorable performances in “Getaway” and “The Purge”. Not an easy part, but again one that suits him. Sarah Snook, however, is the one who steals the show and plays a fairly special role. Personally I found the reasonable long scene with those two characters in the bar, where Snook told her life story, preternaturally gorgeous. A fascinating story with delightful pieces of conversations and highly entertaining. It also takes over half of the film to complete and is the foundation that bears the whole story. After this, things start to unravel.
If there’s a movie for which the concept “Mind Fuck” was invented, then it should be this one. A fascinating story. But it would be handy if they wrote a manual for it. Don’t be daunted by the slow and stretched first part. It’s there that the identity crisis of John is decomposed with surgical precision. The second part is dominated by the time travels and the resulting paradoxes. And then you’ll understand the usefulness of the extended first part where all the pieces are manufactured, so they can be fitted into each other very subtle. Somewhere they gave it the name-tag a “retro-futuristic thriller” with also a bit of romance and humor. A film which is difficult to grasp, but definitely worthwhile. And now I have a reason to watch “Jessabelle”. Sarah Snook, a name to keep your eye on.