Lowdown: A time traveling agent is hunting down a mysterious bomber in order to prevent the bombings from ever happening.
One of the more celebrated niches of the science fiction genre is that of the small time movie making it big time through some divine like inspiration. I'm talking Moon stuff here. Ethan Hawke is familiar with this, having very successfully participated in Gattaca. The experience seems to have placed him as a niche specialist, since Predestination is essentially aiming for the very same effect: shock and awe the audience through an original twist. However, as they say, “not every day is Purim”, and Predestination is definitely no Gattaca.
The hour and a half long proceedings of this very Australian production start with us learning, in one short scene, that Hawke is some sort of a time travelling policeman trying to stop an elusive bomber from killing tens of thousands by preventing the bomber from successfully executing their plan. Only that in this one opening scene we witness Hawke fail. Not only does he fail, he gets severely burnt in the process and requires severe surgical fix ups.
Next we see a healthy looking Hawke (as far as I could tell, his character is never named) serving as a bartender and talking up a client (Sarah Snook). That conversation goes on and on, which implies it is closely related to Predestination’s story, but that’s pretty much as far as I can go without blooping. Suffice to say there is a deeply rooted twist deep inside Predestination, working towards a Memento grade revelation. That may sound cool on paper, but in my humble opinion the secret as pretty obvious and the positive shock factor is therefore minimal. Predestination thus ends up feeling more like Looper on a tight budget, and that’s a statement made with much generosity.
If one seeks to look behind the basic shock & awe attempt at the viewer, then one could argue Predestination is trying to make a statement on the cause and effect of some of the bad things affecting our society. Things like bombings, to use the movie’s example. Reading between the lines, Predestination is arguing that these problems may well be the result of the way we are trying to combat them. Given what we know today about the likes of Bin Laden and the support he got from the West before he turned on the West (see here for a fine example), Predestination might be making a very valid point.
Overall: A brave attempt at twisting that ultimately fails with 2 out of 5 unwound crabs.