Predestination Review: A Snake Chasing its Own Tale

Words: Daniel Provan

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Following on from last week, I decided to catch up on another quietly-released Australian film from the end of 2014: Predestination. I had heard a lot of praise sung for the way that this time-travel film handled rather dark sci-fi elements and the way it defies a lot of genre expectations. Well…it’s true; Predestination does take you to a lot of unexpected places. But this isn’t always a good thing.

Directed by the Spierig Brothers, Predestination focuses on a Temporal Agent (played by Ethan Hawke) who travels to the past in order to prevent a terrorist attack by a criminal who he has pursued throughout time. Now, that may sound like a high-octane action movie on paper, but the reality is that Predestination is actually a slow-burning drama mystery about two characters which unravels as the film goes on. There isn’t a lot of action, but all the action in the film is shot beautifully and drives the story forward nicely. On one hand that’s great: watching the mystery unfold and trying to figure out what’s going on is pretty thrilling, Ethan Hawke alongside Sarah Snook (who plays The Unmarried Mother) give excellent performances that ensure you are invested in the human drama at the heart of the film.

On the other hand Predestination feels a little lacklustre once you’ve finished watching it. The film sets up a very intriguing premise in the Temporal Bureau but doesn’t really use it to its full potential; spending too much time on exposition and backstory rather than perhaps building up the lore and secrets of this organisation, not to mention that the more you think about the twists and turns of the movie, the less impressive and confusing they seem. It’s hard to describe, but you could very well leave Predestination wishing it was longer and hoping for a sequel of some kind.

The Verdict: Good

Predestination gets a lot of things right; the performances are excellent and the core character-driven mystery is genuinely interesting and something rarely seen in modern cinema. I also have to mention just how beautiful the cinematography is in this film and how great some of the special effects are. Unfortunately, Predestination is let down by some shaky logic and dragging backstory, which becomes more apparent the more you think about the film after watching it. I did enjoying watching Predestination and fans of mystery and sci-fi films should definitely find time to check it out. Even if you’re not really into either genres Predestination is still worth watching for something different, but you’ll probably want to save it for a rainy day.

Image Credit: Crave Online

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