Predestination (2014): In Which The Title Is Actually Very Very Important But I’m Still Confused

Note: At the end, there will be a section containing spoilers in which I discuss (i.e., talk to myself through the keyboard) the ending of the movie. It will be preceded by a very obvious alert.

I remember watching the trailer for this months ago and thinking, “Huh, this looks kinda interesting.”

I mean, it just looks cool. You’ve got time travel, and a gun, and a dramatic hazy background.

I’ve always been interested in time travel movies. Unfortunately time travel often becomes way too confusing with not enough time and words to explain it in a sufficient manner to allow the audience to understand it. Thankfully, Predestination was almost nothing like that.

Directed by the Spierig brothers, Predestination is based off the short story, “–All You Zombies–” by Robert A. Heinlein (no, I have not read it). Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, and Noah Taylor all star in this universe where time travel was invented in 1981 and these temporal agents jump around in time, preventing crimes before they even happen.

Using a violin case-shaped time machine, these agents work to create a better future.

However, this is not the focus of the movie. Instead, the focus revolves mainly around the time travel and the complicated relationship of these characters. Drawn into John’s recount of his tragic life story to bartender Ethan Hawke, the audience is unable to avert their eyes from this miserable yet fascinating story.

I have to admit I didn’t really pay attention to the acting because I was so caught up in the plot, but from what I did pay attention to, Sarah Snook did a fantastic job of portraying the androgynous Jane/John.

If you’re looking for an intense sci-fi thriller with cool and probably accurate science, you should probably see InterstellarPredestination focuses very little on the actual science of time travel, but rather on the complex relationships and emotions between all the characters (if you know the ending, you can see how ironic this is). But while Interstellar was an excellent movie and definitely worth watching, Predestination is just as worth watching, giving a more lasting effect, a more thought-provoking aftermath. It provides interesting insight into the famous question: “Which came first: the egg or the chicken?”

And it talks about identity, a topic that I love thinking about and even analyzing.

It’s not often that a movie makes me think. Predestination definitely fits in that category. It’s one of those movies that my dad, who is content with mildly scary horror movies and predictable action movies, doesn’t have the patience for, but I find intriguing. It’s a movie that the more I think about it, the more I like it.

Conclusion: Although plot-heavy with Inception-like twists and layers, Predestination holds its charm in the characters, splashed among a sci-fi setting of time travel to further reveal the depth of these characters. Philosophical and thought-provoking, Predestination touches on topics worth discussing through a well-executed, though somewhat mind-boggling, plot and style. Although I was extremely confused at the end, I think the confusion is part of the charm that it has. 9/10.

ALERT.

ALERT.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Just in case you didn’t want to even peek at the ending, here’s a giant picture.

Here is where I talk about the ending.

The ending confused me even more than I already was, but at the same time, it made sense. Ever since John had bumped into 1963 Jane, I had started seeing all the loops (and predestination), so I wasn’t exactly surprised when Ethan Hawke stole the baby. I was surprised when Ethan Hawke turned out to be Sarah Snook and then the Fizzle Bomber turned out to be Ethan Hawke.

But it all made so much sense. And for some reason, I just felt really moved by it. I think it’s the whole identity crisis thing. They’re all the same person, but at the same time, they have completely different identities. And this loop–this never-ending loop just fascinates me.

And also the genetics. I wonder how Sarah Snook/Ethan Hawke character’s genes would look like. Because at this point, in this loop (I’m not sure how the loop came about, but let’s skip that for now), they should all be sharing the exact same DNA, right? But because of genetics, when John impregnates Jane, the genes aren’t always split 50/50 from the mother and father (I hope I’m getting my biology correct). But does it really matter because they have the same DNA anyways? And what about the chromosomes? Did Jane originally have both X and Y?

But that’s all just mildly interesting questions I like to ponder on. This movie took on one of my favorite concepts of all time: fated destiny.

Probably not what you’re thinking of. Not the whole destined-to-be-super-amazing-hero-that-saves-the-world, but having a future, a fate, that is inescapable. Predestination shows one of my favorite ways of showing predestined fate: any action taken to attempt to change that fate is the action that ultimately causes the fate of the character, destiny, however you want to put it.

Every single thing that Ethan Hawke/Sarah Snook did (like looking for the man that ruined Jane, or trying to stop the Fizzle Bomber again), it just ended up being what caused that consequence (Jane going through all that pain, or Ethan Hawke’s gun fight that caused him to get set on fire in the first place).

But no matter how pessimistic this seems, at the same time, it is not completely hopeless, because these character(s) have grown from this new knowledge, that they are the one that caused their own demise/fate/destiny/whatever. Which brings on the question: if you are the one causing your predestined fate through your own decisions, aren’t you exercising free will?

Second conclusion: I’m still slightly confused and everything I’m saying might not be making sense, but it’s a confusion in a good way. Excellent movie, and I would most definitely recommend it to most everyone, especially those who like discussing the deep meaning behind stuff.

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