Predestination review — A twisted tale of time travel

Written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, adapting the short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein. 

Time travel movies keep on coming.

Last year we had X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was quite a bit of fun, and now in cinemas are two movies that take audiences across time—Project Almanac and The Spongebob Movie: A Sponge Out Of Water—both of which currently remain unseen by me.

Next week we’ll get the sequel to Hot Tub Time Machine, the original an exceedingly silly comedy that I liked despite myself. Later this year the trend will continue in another attempt to revive the Terminator franchise— Terminator: Genisys

I’m down with all this time tripping, especially if the movies are as good as this one I’m about to review.

Predestination is the cinematic version of a short story I read back in my yout’. (You can go here to check it out.) Heinlein put the cap on great time travel tales with this one, a 13-page masterpiece that starts with a dude going into a bar in the early 1970s and telling his life story to the barkeep, which starts with, “When I was a little girl.”

The story that follows is one of ambition, societal pressure, and sex changes. Maybe not the least likely revelation here is that the bartender is a temporal agent, looking to recruit this guy to help track down a New York bomber. At least, that’s how it goes in the movie—the Spierig Brothers add a few thriller elements to the tale. In moments perhaps those elements over-complicate it, but they don’t diminish its delicious paradoxes.

The Spierigs manage to make the piece about identity,  giving it a very modern twist. The more bawdy humour from Heinlein’s story is absent, but in approaching this material seriously, the filmmakers actually give it political resonance that makes it both contemporary and quite affecting.


It certainly helps that they’ve cast Sarah Snook as the character known as The Unmarried Mother. She delivers a performance that provides an emotional anchor to a story so convoluted it desperately needs it—in her hooded eyes she has a gift for communicating immense loneliness.


And the Australian filmmakers chose to go back to Ethan Hawke, the star of their last film, the science fiction vampire piece Daybreakers, as The Barkeep. Through the years I’ve found a growing respect for the actor, mostly through his work with Richard Linklater (earning him an Academy Award nod this year for Boyhood). Lately I’ve found his presence in a film is a sign of it being a worthwhile project—he likes a challenging script, and isn’t afraid of cerebral fantasy. That’s exactly what this is.

For the science fiction buffs out there, you’re in for a treat.  Predestination is very much worth your time.

Predestination is now available on VOD and DVD. 

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.