04th Nov2014

Mayhem 2014: ‘Predestination’ Review

by Dan Woolstencroft

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor, Sarah Snook, Elise Jansen, Christopher Kirby, Madeleine West, Cate Wolfe, Jim Knobeloch, Freya Stafford, Lucinda Armstrong Hall, Rob Jenkins, Christopher Stollery | Written by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig | Directed by The Spierig Brothers


Back in 2003, the Spierig Brothers directed a low budget farmhouse zombie horror called Undead. It was an entertaining and imaginative debut, and everyone looked forward to their next offering. It turned out we had to wait a while. In 2009, they released Daybreakers. Another imaginative genre offering, with an entertaining cast and some neat ideas. What would their next movie be?

After another long wait, we arrive in 2014 with Predestination.

Shown as the opening film for day four of the festival, Predestination is a difficult film to talk about without totally ruining it. So I’ll give you this much: after a tense opening sequence which introduces us to the film’s antagonist the “Fizzle Bomber”, Ethan Hawke is sent back in time to the 70s on one last mission, which appears to take him undercover as a barman. Enter an enigmatic stranger who offers to tell him the best damn story he’s ever heard, and proceeds to captivate with his amazing life story. And then, things get really interesting.

Predestination is a wonderful film to watch. The two central performances from Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook are absolutely delightful. The majority of the film focuses on the stranger’s back story, which Snook features heavily in, and could easily have been a plodding, tedious affair. Instead, it’s utterly captivating as each new detail is threaded into the remarkable tapestry of the movie. You might see some of the twists coming, but they’re no less enjoyable, or taxing to the mind, as a result.

The direction isn’t flashy, although the brief action sequences have a nice punch to them, and the time travel effect is particularly enjoyable. The real achievement here is realising that there’s a compelling story to be told, and two wonderful actors telling it, and bringing that vision onto the screen in an understandable and coherent way. The soundtrack is wonderful too, evoking that electronic Carpenter-esque vibe that seems to be all the rage right now.

Such a powerful and expertly delivered combination of performance and storytelling result in a moving, exciting, and thought provoking time travel tale. I’m not going to say any more about it for fear of ruining some of the surprises.

Predestination was my highlight of the Mayhem Film Festival this year, and might just be my favourite time travel film to date. I really hope we don’t have to wait another 5 years for the next Spierig movie, or I might have to look to inventing a time machine of my own.


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