The latest film from Michael and Peter Spierig (Undead, Daybreakers) manages to be the duo’s best yet: a reworking of the Robert Heinlein short story “All You Zombie” that feels right at home alongside similarly minded time travel crime thrillers Minority Report and Looper, coming out slightly better than the latter and not quite as tightly constructed and showy as the former.
Ethan Hawke plays a “temporal agent” – a cop who travels through time to prevent murders, you know, like Minority Report – out for one last job before his retirement, a quest to track down the “Fizzle Bomber,” a criminal who eluded him in the 1970s and forced him to get reconstructive surgery (that makes him look like Ethan Hawke, so, that’s a tough break). Working now under the guise of a bartender, he looks to a potential new recruit (an intersex and hard to describe character played brilliantly by Sarah Snook) to help him close this final chapter of his career.
Predestination is brainy sci-fi and action done well. It moves so quickly and so intricately it can only really be compared most readily to the work of the Wachowski siblings. It’s hard to explain in just a blurb, but it never lets up, never gets boring, and unlike most films that use a time travelling motif it actually adds up to make a modicum of logical sense. Hawke puts in a great performance, but this film belongs entirely to Snook who should shoot to stardom if this thing gets the exposure it deserves. Her role is one of such richness and complexity that I dare not spoil a word of it.
The only caveats I would say against it is that there are really only two main characters to keep track of and that the Sperigs require the audience’s full and undivided attention. Neither of those are bad things.
Next to Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter, this is the festival’s most thoughtful surprise.
Tuesday, October 21st, 7:00pm, Scotiabank Theatre