Predestination comes out tomorrow in the US, but in keeping with this time travel movie, I’m giving you a review before the movie is out! Well, okay, maybe that’s because it’s an Australian film, and I caught it on our flight over there. And for our readers elsewhere, I have found that IMDb keeps release schedules, so here’s the international release schedule. Looks like many countries have already gotten this film, with a few more still to come!
I have a couple of goals with this review. The first is to talk a bit about the film, trying to avoid spoilers, while still setting enough of the scene to pique your interest. I think that may be necessary because I don’t know how well the trailer does at that. This isn’t an action movie, but a thoughtful speculative story, where the characters and their personal stories are the interesting part. This is a gender-bending, time-traveling, science-fictional piece that avoids feeling like a Hollywood flick. By, you know, not being made in Hollywood.
The other thing I would like to do is sneak this in as a LitFlix for the year, before we actually have our 2015 list together for you! The film is based on the 1959 short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. It’s a short short story, but it was amazing to see how they turned it into a film! So I’ll talk about that too, but I’ll still try to keep away from spoilers. I recommend this movie and hope that you get a chance to see it, whether on the big screen or at home!
I mentioned the trailer doesn’t quite do the movie justice, and it doesn’t. It plays up the action, the mission – but it’s recruiting help that makes this story enjoyable.
This is a speculative, thinking piece of science fiction. Sure, it’s time travel, but it’s used far more as a thought experiment for paradoxes and mystery solving than for action. It seems there is a future agency which watches over time, trying to stop acts that can be stopped. Their full activity, how they choose what to stop or how they consider all of the possible ramifications, is also not really the point.
The movie instead focuses on Ethan Hawke’s character recruiting a new time agent, to help him stop and catch The Fizzle Bomber – a time-traveling bomber who changes what his plan is, what happens, so that history is changed, and they always show up at the wrong time to stop him. But even the Fizzle Bomber isn’t the point.
No, the point is the story that Ethan Hawke gets out of his young, jaded recruit. I could tell you about it, but this is the reason to go see this film, to watch this story play out. There are several levels of reveals throughout, followed then with some time travel fun and paradoxes galore.
All You Zombies
“A tourist is someone who travels across the ocean only to be photographed sitting next to their boat. I have no intention of being a tourist.”
-The Unmarried Mother, Predestination
The above quote is one that’s stuck with me, maybe because I was heading off to a foreign country as I heard it… Anyway, it’s one of the only lines from the movie that I did not end up reading in All You Zombies. The movie follows the short story exceedingly well, from everything I remember of it. Reading the story, I could see the scenes playing out in the film.
And pretty much the entire short story ends up in the movie, and then they add a bit more. But what they add is even things hinted at in the short story, like the Fizzle Bomber. They flesh out The Unmarried Mother’s story, as well, but more than anything that’s just taking time and showing us stuff visually and in flashbacks that the short story wasn’t built for.
I think actually the biggest thing that’s interesting is time. When the story was written in 1958, it was talking about the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Now, those decades are the past. That makes the movie an alternate history, rather than a possible future.
The biggest overall world item that Heinlein imagined (other than time travel, of course) was long-term space travel. A whole industry arises training bright young women to travel with the men – because they get lonely, don’t you know.
The modern adaptation takes that further: thus the quote above. In the movie you just definitely get the sense that Sarah Snook’s character is much smarter and more skilled, that this was even possible. And really, that women’s equality went further than what Heinlein imagined, along with other things.
Yet the thing he focused on, long-term space travel, is still only in its infancy. Funny how these things all work out. But anyway, the movie does a good job of adapting both the feeling of this all being the future – and the past. For a time traveler, most everything is both.
Still not sold? The international trailer is actually better than the US trailer above, but I also think it gives more away. But maybe that’s just from having seen it?