January 14, 2015

VOD Review: Predestination (2015)

(aka What Just Happened?)
Release Date: January 9th.
Country: Australia.
Rating: R.
Written & Directed by: The Spierig Brothers.
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, and Noah Taylor.

Predestination tells the story of a time-traveling Temporal Agent who is jumping back and forth through time, in a desperate effort to stop The Fizzle Bomber; a terrorist with a horrible nickname who is responsible for killing thousands of people with his bombs. After thwarting one of The Fizzle's attacks, the Temporal Agent is badly burned around the head, breast, neck, and chest, and returns to the future to have their face reconstructed.

Enter John, a dude who looks like a chick wearing a bad disguise, who tells the Temporal Agent a story about Jane, a girl who was born Intersex, and was left at an orphanage as an infant. She grows up to be a highly intelligent young lady with a bright future ahead of her until she meets the love of her life, who knocks her up and then takes off. After giving birth to her baby, it's kidnapped, and Jane becomes a man.

...and that's about as much as we're going to say about this one, as we've already spoiled enough of its plot. Predestination is a complete mind-fuck of a movie, and if you're going to invest your time and mental energy watching it, you should do so as spoiler-free as possible.

Predestination is a really solid movie. It's entertaining, it keeps you guessing, and it's anchored by two standout performances by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. That being said, it also plays more like a psychological Drama with some Sci-Fi/Thriller elements thrown in than it does a pure Sci-Fi Thriller, so anyone looking for action and bloodshed might find it a bit underwhelming. Don't get us wrong; there are plenty of Sci-Fi & Thriller elements throughout the film, they just seemed to be there as more of an accent for the dramatic elements, rather that being its main focus.

This is definitely a character-driven movie.

The way that Predestination handles time travel, and its many paradoxes, is pretty fantastic. So many things in this movie overlap and come back on each other due to the character's traveling back and forth through time, that we're still trying to make logical sense of it all. So what came first, the chicken or the egg? And what if a chicken from the future could travel back in time to deliver an egg? Which one comes first then? It's all so gloriously confusing!

Ethan Hawke was great in this movie, but it was Sarah Snook who really stood out the most with her performance (performances?) here. This movies shows that the girl has crazy talent, and there's no doubt that she's going to be doing some great things in the future. Both of their roles were constructed with meticulous care, and were perfectly executed.

In the end, it's the story that makes Predestination both a compelling watch, and at the same time, a bit of a frustrating experience. On one hand, the movie's characters, and what they go through, are genuinely intriguing, and the way that the plot twists and turns will keep most people guessing as to what in the hell is going on, from start to finish. On the other, once the final act kicks in, the movie seems to be more interested in being psychologically twisty and clever than giving us any kind of exciting climax. We're pretty sure that on future viewings, it won't bother us as much, but it just threw us for a bit of a loop, is all.

We weren't thrilled with the way that the movie wrapped things up. Whereas we were set up for a Thriller about a time-traveling Temporal Agent who is racing against the clock to stop the feared, mass-murdering Fizzle Bomber, that storyline was kinda pushed to the side to focus more on the characters, and the twisty paths that lead them through their lives. That's not necessarily a bad thing at all, we loved it, it's just not the Sci-Fi Thriller that we thought we'd be getting after watching the trailer. Not completely, anyway. The movie definitely could have done with some more action, and a bit of a bigger climax.

We're also not sure if this movie is being preachy or not. Without giving too much away, the main plot-point of the movie involves the politics and effects of sexuality identity, and it felt at times like it was some sort of social justice crusade type of thing. I don't want to jump the gun on that bit and say that The Spierig Brothers were definitely trying to make a political statement about gender roles (and the way that society reacts to them, for better or worse), but it's hard for us to believe that it wasn't at least part of the point that they were making. Again, none of this is a bad thing, we just weren't expecting it.


We have to at least attempt to make sense out of everything that happened in this movie, and it feels like the best way to do it is chronologically:

So basically, baby Jane is dropped off at an orphanage (by Ethan Hawke.) Jane grows up a girl, meets a guy, falls in love, gets pregnant, and then he disappears. After giving birth, Jane surgically becomes a man (for reasons), and her baby is kidnapped (by Ethan Hawke.) Jane becomes John, who later meets Ethan Hawke and tells him his/her sad story. Genuinely moved, Ethan Hawke tells John that he can take him back in time to change what happens, thus saving he and Jane years of torturous misery, and so they go back to when Jane was in school. John meets Jane (who keep in mind is him before he became a man), and he has sex with his former self, despite knowing that he shouldn't, which leaves her pregnant. Ethan Hawke then convinces John to become a Temporal Agent and help him stop the Fizzle Bomber, which results in him (John) getting badly burned and having his face reconstructed... which leaves him looking like Ethan Hawke...

This all essentially means that John/Jane is both his/her own Mother and Father, who ends up becoming Ethan Hawke, who kidnaps his baby self, which eventually leads her/him/them to become The Fizzle Bomber... Ethan Hawke is everybody; the baby, Jane, John, himself, and The Fizzle Bomber.

What in the actual fuck?!?

The bottom line is that Predestination is a  very well-made psychological Thriller, that while not being everything that we thought it would be, still managed to be a really entertaining and thought-provoking watch. As with most movies that deal with the mechanics and rules of time travel, this movie will play with your head and leave you thinking about it long after it's over.

It's definitely worthy of a rental, just be prepared to put on your thinking caps when you sit down to watch it. And confusion. Prepare for that too.


Predestination is available now on VOD, and in Limited Theatrical Release.


Sarah Snook is not only crazy talented, but she's also a super QT redhead who makes us swoon a little bit.


  1. An honest and good review. As someone who spent his formative years, ten to twenty-five, devouring Golden Age science fiction, I found this a real treat. In an age of two hundred million dollar super hero movies, it was a refreshing change to see a small, idea based science-fiction film and based on a story by one of the great science fiction writers; Robert Heinlein. Like you I wish the ending with the Fizzle Bomber, (I refuse to use the obvious pun), had more spark and action and like you, I found parts of it a little preachy but had no trouble ignoring that when placed against the movie's many virtues. Sarah Snook, to me, raised the movie out of being merely clever and into the realm of genuinely affecting human drama. I can not help but think that if she had turned in this performance in a big budget American film, she would have been one of the women nominated for Best Actress yesterday. I hope this coming year gives us at least a few films with 'Predestination's' intelligence and a couple of more fine Miss Snook appearances in quality genre films.

    1. Agree with your points, especially abput Sarah Snook. She really owned this movie, and absolutely made it more heartfelt.

  2. Meh. I think I'll pass on this one. I could be wrong, obviously, but it sounds like it's just twists and turns for the sake of twists and turns.

    1. It's not really twists and turns for the sake of it, but they are basically the foundation of the movie, so if it sounds like something that you wouldn't like, then definitely skip it.

  3. Your review is refreshing. Great post. So far each film made by the Spierig Brothers has been a vast improvement on the last, displaying impressive and mature jumps in storytelling and direction. With Predestination such a high cue, one can only eagerly anticipate what will come next.

    1. thanks, Thomas. The Spierig Bros. are great, now they just need to make more films. We loved them all, especially Daybreakers.