Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Written by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein
Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
MPAA Rating: R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language
Running Time: 97
Date: 01/09/2015

Predestination (2014)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

From Time to Time

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The twin filmmakers Michael and Peter Spierig, born in Germany and based in Australia, have made lightly entertaining zombie and vampire films (Undead and Daybreakers), but Predestination is something else. It's a mind-bending time-travel story that uses its sci-fi gimmick less for comedy or action than to explore a strange concept of identity. It will have many viewers pondering and asking existential questions for some time afterwards, though discussing it further here would risk giving away the movie's secrets.

A mad bomber, known as the "Fizzle Bomber," is on the loose. A time-traveling Temporal Agent gets close to stopping him, but is injured in the explosion. With some restorative surgery and a new face, he travels back to the 1970s where he begins his search anew. Working undercover as a bartender, the agent (Ethan Hawke) meets a young man and hears an astounding story: the young man was born as a female (Sarah Snook), and was once trained to be a special agent for the Space Corps, but was suddenly forced to leave. She met a man, became pregnant, and then both the man and the baby disappeared. Back in the bar, the bartender offers the young man a chance to gain his revenge. But how does it all connect to the Fizzle Bomber?

Borrowing a 1959 story by Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers), the Spierig brothers fleshed out the original idea to make it more cinematic and visual, but remarkably, without dumbing it down (i.e. without padding it or adding chase scenes). Their direction offers plenty of atmosphere and thoughtful exchanges, while still keeping cards up sleeves. The only other thing that can be said is how brilliant the newcomer Sarah Snook is in her complex role, with veteran Ethan Hawke equalling her.

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