Words - Jerram Wurlod

Written and directed by twin brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, Predestination is their third Australian made feature film. Their previous features (Undead 2003, Daybreakers 2009) were crafted firmly in the horror genre.

This outing takes place in a world of science fiction where time travel is possible, if only for a select few. The film was made entirely in Melbourne at the Docklands Studio and is produced by Australian production company’s Wolfhound Pictures and Blacklab Entertainment in conjunction with Screen Australia.

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Based on the Robert A. Heinlein short story All You Zombies (1958) we are presented with a time travelling temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) whose job it is to prevent devastating crime such as mass murders. To do this he must travel back in time and collect clues on the suspect and prevent the crime from ever occurring. Now on his last assignment before being decommissioned, the agent must find and stop the one criminal he has never been able to catch.

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Although Australian made, Predestination has been pitched at an international audience for world wide release and thus its central protagonist is American born star Ethan Hawke (as the agent). Staring alongside Hawke is Australian Sarah Snook. The latter perhaps hasn’t quite reached star status yet but if her performance in this film is anything to go by it won’t be long before she does. Noah Taylor (senior agent of the Temporal Agency) rounds out the three central characters of the film and as we have come to expect, plays his role superbly.

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In keeping with tradition of the genre Predestination tackles real world issues in a sci-fi context. Something that other sci-fi thrillers such as Transcendence (2014) – the evolution of the online identity - and Elysium (2013) – the growing economic gulf between rich and poor – have successfully achieved in recent years. Predestination takes on the very real world issues of gender identity and change. It was intriguing to have this subtext bubbling along in the back of my mind while trying to maintain focus on the somewhat complex time shifting plotline.

Ethan Hawke gives us an engaging and moody performance throughout and as previously mentioned Sarah Snook does a fantastic job, ultimately playing two characters throughout the same film. For the most part the film does a great job of crafting its thriller aspects, keeping you guessing at almost every turn. The majority of the story is told from the perspective of Snook’s character as we, along with Hawke, attempt to make the connection between her and the criminal he seeks. Impressively Snook holds her own against the more experienced Hawke and the pair make for a great onscreen partnership.

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The Spierig Brothers seem to have come of age with their latest feature. The production oozes quality and I was particularly impressed with the sound track which was composed by Peter Spierig. It all combined to create a genuinely engaging thriller even though I was ultimately able to see the end of the film coming from a long way off. Despite this Predestination still holds up well against the recent crop of sci-fi thrillers and it’s great to see a film of such high production quality and world wide release spring from our very own Melbourne.

Predestination is currently screening at Cinema Nova in Carlton among others.