Thursday, January 29, 2015

[Review] Predestination

Amidst Ethan Hawke's award season success for Boyhood, comes Predestination--a brainy and slightly campy sci-fi thriller. This VOD and slim theater release is worth a watch. Or two.

After some opening flashbacks (or are they flashforwards?), we're introduced to the anchoring frame of the film which takes place, yes--at a dingy bar in New York. Bartender (Hawke) meets John (Sarah Snook), formerly known as Jane. John gives his very interesting life story--from his abandonment at an orphanage, to his early experiences with gender dysphoria, to his training with secret space programs. Then, the Bartender reveals his actual profession as a Temporal Agent--or a time-traveling police officer that prevents crimes before they take place. And what we have here is an entertaining combination of Minority Report, Looper, and Christopher Nolan's latest, Interstellar.

The twisty story is actually somewhat predictable, but that doesn't necessarily detract from its overall intrigue, and it still manages to be a bit of a mindfuck. Predestination presents an ambitiously warped tale, but the film never feels like it's in over its head. It's actually easier to follow than expected, which allows you to sit back and enjoy the ride without having to do much head-scratching. Last month, Ethan Hawke stopped by Sway in the Morning while promoting the film and said the entire crew put together an intricate web of storyboard and timelines in order to make sure the narrative was as tight as can be without any major flaws or plot holes. And they seem to have executed it well.

Even though I wasn't as hot on last year's Snowpiercer as most, I liken this film to it in that they're both freshly high-concept sci-fi with smaller platforms despite possessing the accessibility of blockbusters. Sarah Snook gives a show-stealing performance here, and I expect to see big things from her in the future. The directing duo that are booked as The Spierig Brothers are ones to keep an eye on considering such genre fare (their previous films involved zombies and vampires), as they've made leaps with this picture.

Seek out this film if you can, and don't blink.


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