Predestination


Dir: The Spierig Brothers
Star: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor

Other time-travel movies tiptoe carefully around the paradoxes that inevitably threaten to derail story logic. This doesn't: rather, it rushes headlong toward paradox, frolicking around in them like a hippo enjoying a particularly luscious mud-bath. However, it's truly one of those films where you're better off knowing as little about it going in as possible, which makes it difficult to review. I'll stick to the basic principle. There's a "temporal agent" (Hawke), who goes back in time to the mid-seventies in order to stop a terrorist called the "Fizzle Bomber", because he is about to set off a device which will kill 11,000 people. He has almost been stopped before: a previous effort left the agent requiring extensive plastic surgery to rebuild his features, but now he's ready to try again. His cover is a bartender, and into the bar one night walks a man (Snook), who writes "True confession" stories for a living. He bets the bartender he can recount a story unlike any ever heard before...

And that's as far as I can go. I will say that the twists and turns which follow are pretzel-like in complexity, and I can't be sure of whether the internal logic holds up without a second viewing. Certainly, a second viewing would likely be an entirely different, and perhaps less successful animal, simply due to your awareness of where it's all going. Still, as a first time experience, it's very good, powered by two very different, yet equally sympathetic lead performances, and an impressive script that is actually as intelligent as it thinks [a sad rarity in modern SF cinema]. Based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein, in the fairly short list of adaptations from his work, this definitely counts as one of the best, not far short of Starship Troopers, and likely a good deal more faithful to the source material! Yeah. if perhaps this is a shaggy dog story in cinematic form - there's a nod to a certain novelty song in the middle that's strikingly appropriate - it's one which works, delivering an excellent payload with precision.

B
[March 2015]


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