Predestination is less about time travel than it seems on the surface. Indeed, its protagonist is a cop who traverses time and space to solve crimes – specifically the case of a terrorist bomber – but the story he shares and the one he listens to has more to do with fate and free will.
Ethan Hawke is a Temporal Agent, as they are called, and his final case before retirement (because this job takes its toll) is one of the utmost importance and difficulty. After a literally explosive opening, we find Hawke’s agent in the 1980s tending bar and listening to a lengthy story about hardship and bad luck from an androgynous, enigmatic bystander.
It’s best you pay attention. What seems like a random diatribe is of course not, but even more so after the fact one realizes that everything is carefully constructed in this mind-blowing tale from Michael and Peter Spierig.
This taut thriller requires strict adherence but simultaneously distracts with curious musings. It too of course challenges you to guess what is going to happen. It’s not just any twists or turns that entertain (though they do), but the execution is impressive all the same.
As it is, Hawke’s look and style somehow seem fitting for all decades, and his ability to be both superhero-like cop and blue collar everyman is surely to his credit. Sarah Snook puts forth an incredible performance too as this mysterious storyteller.
Other than that, it’s only possible to speak of this film in the vaguest terms lest revealing too much of the story. It’s simple and complex all at once, but triumphs because of its intimacy and thoughtfulness. The Bartender and The Patron are those with whom we closely spend our time, feeling their pain, sharing their hopes, and seeking answers to their questions.