This is going to be a review I am going to talk around. There is no avoiding it, and if you have any interest in checking out "Predestination" after this review, you'll be glad you went in without knowing much at all. As I sat down to watch this movie, I had little knowledge of the movie as a whole. I knew Ethan Hawke starred in it and I knew he played some kind of guy who travels through time, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I just had a feeling deep inside that this movie was going to shake things up a bit, something it did tremendously.
I will admit that it took me a little while to settle into the rhythms of "Predestination." It starts off with a brutal standoff of a guy out of time trying to stop somebody from setting off a bomb. While the man is successful, he burns nearly his entire face, a different person from the shadows emerges and gives him his device to travel back to the future. Of course, during this entire sequence, we don't get a good look at everyone's face. Once we are back in the future, we learn that the person who tried to stop the bomb was a temporal agent (played by Ethan Hawke) who works for the government going back and forth through time stopping catastrophes before they happen. There is one knot that he can't seem to untie, one mission he deems impossible. This mission revolves around the Fizzle Bomber, who has been notorious throughout history by killing thousands at a time. Even with a reimaged, and damaged face, the temporal agent is willing to put a stop to the Fizzle Bomber's plots.
Posing as a bartender in the 1970's, the temporal agent sparks a conversation with John, an author of women's interests in a magazine. They get to talking and the agent discovers that at one point, John was a woman, and she spent her whole life trying to become an astronaut. Something that constantly fell through, and after meeting a strange man one night, falling in love and having a child, that became even harder. Especially since it was around that time that she had to become a man after male organs were discovered in her body after her child's birth. The agent then learned that John's child was abducted and never heard of again. The temporal agent then reveals what he does and wants John's helping in tracking the Fizzle Bomber, as new evidence emerges that whomever kidnapped John's child maybe the Fizzle Bomber too.
And that's about as much description that I want to subscribe. If you really want to, you could read and study my description and possibly decipher the mystery that keeps the movie going. It is really easy for a movie to create a mystery by just not showing us certain faces, then spend the rest of the movie revealing these faces. It is a really hard mystery to pull off on film because the story always feels flimsy and it is easy to figure out whose who. However, the work by director(s) Michael and Peter Spierig, the movie is constantly engaging, constantly engrossing and constantly entertaining. Never once did I feel like I had this movie figured out, and I had no idea which direction it would head and I was drawn to every moment of it.
The work by Ethan Hawke is, quite frankly, memorizing. I don't know what it is about Ethan Hawke and science fiction, but he seems to find the best scripts in the genre and then gives himself to the role he has to play. I love how effortless that Hawke is able to compose himself as a threat for not being built like an action star. He is also able to possess several emotions and have the audience buy into the characters he is creating.
The real discovery of "Predestination" was Sarah Snook. Snook is an Australian actress, and after my personal first appearance with her, I can say I want to see more. Snook plays both the male and female versions of the character John, and she pulls off each sex with wrenching power. She makes it look easy, playing two different sexes, and there is a particular scene where John meets the female version of himself, and it is some of the best acting I have seen in awhile. She will help you buy into this premise and she does good work opposite of Ethan Hawke. Truly spectacular work.
"Predestination" is the first supremely great movie of 2015. Something that all science fiction fans should dig. Also anybody who likes themselves a good, old-fashioned mystery will enjoy. With great performances, and cool action, "Predestination" is a winner.
FINAL GRADE: A