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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Predestination (2015)


First film from 2015 reviewed and so far, this year’s looking very “meh”.

A Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) who is constantly travelling through time in hopes to stop certain tragedies from happening, may have finally met his final case. There is a new terrorist going around Boston by the name of “the Fizzle Bomber” and it’s up to the agent to find out who it is, for what reasons, and whether or not he’s even able to stop it in the first place. Somehow though, he ends up tending bar at some random dive place located all the way in New York City. Whatever the reasons may be, he doesn’t know, but he’s just going to try and get on with the night. That’s when a strange customer (Sarah Snook) comes walking through the door, orders a whole bottle of Scotch, and starts chatting it up with the barkeep. As they get talking, the conversation gets deeper and deeper, with one side telling their whole life’s story up until this point, whereas the other is just sitting by, taking notes on what that other person is saying. It all means something, but what, is the real question at hand here; the same question these two are getting ready to figure out on their own.

You know he's cool, once he has the 'stache.

You know he’s cool, once he has the ‘stache.

Notice how by the end of that plot-synopsis, things got a little shaky for me? Well, that’s because a lot of Predestination is up to be seen by the viewer, because giving anything at all away would be a bit of a disservice to the film itself. That said, there is something to this movie that makes me wonder if I was supposed to like it, or just absolutely despise the ever-lovin’ crap out of it.

See, while I was one to automatically think that Predestination would be a time-travel thriller and nothing more, something in the movie actually switched gears and it had me totally blind-sided. While the first ten minutes or so is chock full of people shooting one another, getting showered in some sort of acid, and grabbing onto guitar-cases to actually complete the action of time travel (I know, please bear with me here), suddenly, after a little bit of exposition between characters we’re not to familiar with, it all changes. Somehow, somewhere, it becomes something of a drama, and a very interesting one at that.

But once again, this is something that I do not want to give away a bit too much to ruin other viewer’s chances of possibly enjoying this, so I’ll try to stay as vague as possible.

Anyway, co-writers/directors Peter and Michael Spierig do really well with this story is introduce something that comes almost completely out of nowhere, but somehow, still very much works in its own right. A certain character comes into this piece and begins to delve into their back-story – where they were born, how they were brought up, what they did in life, how they got to this one point in time, etc. And it actually becomes something of a compelling drama, one with a central character we can care for, yet, also one that still leaves plenty up to the viewer’s and their minds. We’re told that this whole story is going to eventually have an end game that’s going to wrap the whole picture up with a neat, tidy little bow, yet, it’s easy to forget about that and just focus on this story that we’re being told; one that, according to the person who is telling this story will “knock us out”.

A good portion of this credit deserves to go to the Spierig Brothers for actually throwing a curveball at us, and so very early on in the movie, but another good portion of the credit also has to go to Sarah Snook. Snook is an actress I haven’t seen too much of, actually, but I feel like, if this movie plays in front of the right eyes, that may all change and with good reason, too. Not only is Snook a compelling presence on the screen, but the way she plays her character in so many different shades and personalities is something to be admired. Not all of her performance works, which is mostly due to the fact that some of the make-up and hair she’s forced to wear is a bit goofy, but altogether, it’s a performance that begs for a better movie.

60's fashion. Hararar.

60’s fashion. Hararar!

Because, as good as Snook’s part may be for this movie, there’s still a feeling that the Spierig’s can’t help themselves enough from steering away from some of the more confusing, albeit predictable twists and turns that most sci-fi flicks of this nature linger more towards. This is where Ethan Hawke’s character comes into play and it never made full sense. That’s not to say Hawke isn’t good in this role, because he definitely is; it’s just that, when compared to Snook’s character, he seems poorly-written and with hardly any motivations at all. He’s a cool dude, like most of the characters Hawke loves to play, but he also seems like the kind of hip, sarcastic hitman-character we’re supposed to root for and it’s just never made clear enough to us as to why.

You can also tell that while the Spierig’s had a fun time concocting up this whole subplot, but that they also have a way better time with the sci-fi shenanigans that eventually take place in these sorts of movies and it doesn’t quite work. That’s not to say some of it isn’t fun, it’s just all too confusing and forced on. Where one part of this movie was a drama, focusing on one person’s sad, and very tragic life, the next part ends up becoming a totally wild, loose, and bonkers sci-fi thriller that jumps through travel a bit too many times for it’s own good.

Once again, wasn’t like it wasn’t fun, it was just unneeded is all. Especially when you’ve already introduced a story that yes, knocked me out. All until the next story came back to me into place and make me upset.

Consensus: There are two movies battling one another in Predestination, and while one totally works, the other one keeps it away from being as fun, or as effective as it could have been.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Still bearing with me?

Still bearing with me?

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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12 responses to “Predestination (2015)

  1. Nostra January 9, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I understand you mixed feelings about it. Had that as well. Still it is a very interesting concept to show in a movie.

  2. Zoë January 9, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Hmmmm, still looking to catch this, though I don’t have high hopes.

  3. TheMarckoguy January 9, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I thought it came out 2014.

  4. Austin @ The Bishop Review January 9, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I hadn’t even heard of this movie, to be honest. I might check it out if I get a chance.

  5. angie chui January 9, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Don’t lose hope. Its just the beginning of the year, after all. Great review 😀

  6. newguy87 January 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Nice review, i felt the same about it.

  7. jeffro517 January 10, 2015 at 1:00 am

    This looked a lot like a Minority Report style story. I’m not sure if I’ll make time for this one. Great review!

  8. The Hot Rod January 10, 2015 at 3:03 am

    I really loved this film – can’t believe you scored it a 6! – and thought it was better than many reviews had given it credit for. I really enjoyed Ethan Hawke’s performance here, as I typically find him an actor I can leave aside, but Sarah Snook delivered the film into greatness with her performance. Truly remarkable.

  9. Pingback: » Movie Review – Predestination Fernby Films

  10. Victor De Leon January 16, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I have a copy of this one but still on the fence about it. May wait a while before watching it. Have so many other movies to catch up on. Fine job on the review. Sounds like you hit on all the good points. Anyway, Hawke, at least is always cool to watch.

  11. Mahan January 23, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Good review, Dan. Personally, I really dug this film but that might be due to my fondness for the Robert Heinlein short story it was adapted from. I definitely agree with you on Sarah Snook’s performance here, even if the makeup had her looking like young John Connor for a lot of it.

  12. Paul. Writer, Blogger and Filmmaker August 24, 2016 at 8:07 am

    I would definitely advise people to have another look at this brilliant under-rated film. I have watched it three times and it gets better each time. In fact it’s one of the best low-budget time-travel films ever. Well, it made my list.

    https://paulraylaight.wordpress.com/2016/08/20/my-cinematic-romance-9-time-travel-films-by-paul-laight/

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