Monday, 25 August 2014
FILM REVIEW: PREDESTINATION
Predestination may begin simply enough -- a man walks into a bar -- but by the end of this taut little tale of time travel, you'll feel as though you've spent the evening in said bar, knocking back one too many stiff drinks. For to paraphrase the most famous of time travelers, the titular Doctor of long-running sci-fi TV series Doctor Who, Predestination is "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey"; a mind-bending, head-scratcher of a film.
The aforementioned man is a newspaper advice columnist, whose pen name is The Unmarried Mother, and he believes he has a story worthy of winning a free bottle of whisky from the bartender (Ethan Hawke). As the night unfolds, the writer tells his incredulous story which begins in an orphanage, proceeds to a cadetship with the space program, and eventually leads to his current employment.
His story also begins with him as a female. And as played by Sarah Snook (looking a little like Leo DiCaprio; a little like Dane DeHaan), that tale is never less than riveting and empathetic. It is also linked to that of the Fizzle Bomber, a domestic terrorist who has been terrorizing the city.
The bomber is also the number one target of the bartender who happens to be a Temporal Agent i.e. time travelling cop, who has been in pursuit of the Fizzle Bomber for years. That the writer walked into this bar on this night is no accident either. That's about as much plot detail for Predestination as one can give before moving into spoiler territory. It's a riddle, wrapped in an enigma and paradoxical would be putting it mildly.
Adapted from a short story (All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein) by the Spierig Brothers, Michael and Peter (2009's Daybreakers), it's not unlike something the Wachowskis would enjoy sinking their teeth into; Predestination playing with theories of time and gender, and defying audience expectations to dizzying if not entirely logical effect. For be warned: your head will hurt by the time the end credits roll.
That's by no means a bad thing. Too few films today require a mental workout from its audience, and even if you guess at how the writer, the bartender and the bomber are linked, you're still likely to develop a migraine doing the 'chicken or the egg' calculations.