I went in looking for Ethan Hawke, instead I found myself looking at five different faces for the first fifty minutes, give or take. Leonardo DiCaprio orders an Old Underwear at a bar where The Bartender (Hawke) brings him his drink. Then I watched a resigned Jodie Foster asking The Bartender to tell a joke. After that Edward Furlong bets that The Bartender would be shocked by his story. Finally, we see The Unmarried Mother (Sarah Snook), stuck in a time warp of an unforgiving past. The Bartender and The Unmarried Mother have nothing in common except for jumps, dates, and a few hours from certain years.
This is an enchantingly strange film by The Spierig Brothers (The Daybreakers, 2009). The brothers do not stop to let the audience think (you can do that on your own time). They do the opposite by planting an idea of transformation of the human body into the time travel narrative, where ‘time-travel‘ is simply another name for the jump cut, or the jump-edit.
Based on the book All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein and adapted for the screen by the Spierig Brothers, the film has absolutely nothing to do with Romero’s hell with a no-vacancy sign flashing on the gate. In reality, the film does not even come close to the new age zombie agronomy or the zombie heritage. It uses the word zombie to define the rebirth of man in a state of a completely alien sentient. Heinlein could have called his book, The Anastasis but I guess Zombie sounds better; sells more.
A little Minority Report, 2002 here, with SpaceCorp, a pinch of Tombstone, 1993 there, with the costumes and gun fight at the start and a few other influences lurking in the shadows, Predestination – no matter how risqué – is determined to bend time and human anatomy to further its rather quirky and ingenious narrative. Never mind the time-devices, they all work in a peculiar manner, with the best of them having flaws of their own; this time-piece being no exception.
I was frowning throughout the film, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. But then I realised the less I tried the more I enjoyed (just like a certain human act). Most probably because this is a fabulous piece of fiction.
That’s where the Temporal Bureau comes in, which talks like an Royal English butler and says things like, ‘… the fragments of matter you leave behind after each jump… we can only repair this much’. Additionally the fucking Temporal Unit is menacing, giving you all the wrong ideas, threatening you with thoughts of dementia, psychosis and paranoia: ‘Don’t ever exceed the jump limit.’ Nevertheless, like in Training Day, 2001, The Bartender does exceed the jump limit.
King Kong ain’t got shit on me.”– Denzel Washington, Training Day
The Spierig Brothers have done a magnificent job of playing it backwards and making all the pieces fall in to place by the end, when all things come full circle to a shocking, scarred revelation. Well almost all things.
When you’re making something this thoughtful and gambling on an idea that is still unacceptable to many, The brothers have done a lovely job of stitching up this unbelievably perplexing and an unfamiliar parable with inexplicable care.
Ethan Hawke is Ethan Hawke unless he’s Hank in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, 2007. Sarah Snook gives a fine performance and looks like she’s aged twenty years in thirty minutes.
Predestination is a highly intriguing film with a narrative that can come undone at the slightest touch, for the logic used is thin as ice. It will give you sleepless nights or make you disagree with all of the above. It might even want you to come out of the closet or build one.
Can we change our futures? I don’t know. The only thing I know for sure that you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
I miss you dreadfully.”
Just bloody well watch it.