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Destiny knocks
On paradox
And grants the wise
A big surprise.
______________

Rating: R (for frequent obscenities and two scenes of nudity, which are easily anticipated)

Predestination is an Australian film that is hard to describe without spoilers, but I’ll do my best. It revolves completely around the secrets and connections of its characters, creating one of the most paradoxical stories imaginable, courtesy of Robert Heinlein’s short story “’—All You Zombies—.’”

Stating the early facts, there’s a mysterious time-traveling agent intent on stopping a mysterious bomber, which then segues into a conversation between said agent as a Bartender (Ethan Hawke) and a confession writer who writes under the pen name “The Unmarried Mother” (Sarah Snook). (I thought Loretta Modern might have been a good pseudonym too.) From this intriguing start, there are flashbacks and quantum leaps and some fascinatingly subtle time-jumping effects, which all lead to a conclusion that I sadly already knew going in. I’m sorry; I just usually like to know what I’m getting into instead of going into a film cold, but in this case, I wish I hadn’t known, if only to see how much I would have guessed as the story progressed.

Sarah Snook earned the most acclaim for her versatility in playing a highly malleable role, and both she and Ethan Hawke carry the film almost by themselves. As I said, the twists are everything. Whereas most films use them to progress the story, here they are the story, which makes for a compelling puzzle but not so much a satisfying conclusion. Even I who knew what would generally happen still had trouble wrapping my head around everything, and it’s a film that would certainly reward a second viewing. Compared with many blockbusters, Predestination is high science fiction, with an ambitious story that goes a bit too high for my middlebrow tastes.

Best line: (the Bartender) “Preparation is the key to successful, inconspicuous time travel. Luck is the residue of design.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2015 S. G. Liput

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