Sci-Fi Predestination (2014)

Title: Predestination

Tagline: To save the future he must reshape the past.

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor, Christopher Kirby, Madeleine West, Jim Knobeloch, Freya Stafford, Elise Jansen, Tyler Coppin, Christopher Stollery, Christopher Sommers, Kuni Hashimoto, Sara El-Yafi, Paul Moder, Grant Piro, Christopher Bunworth, Jamie Gleeson, Christina Tan, Dennis Coard, Milla Simmonds, Ruby Simmonds, Cate Wolfe, Ben Prendergast, Carmen Warrington, Sharon Kershaw, Charlie Alexander-Powell, Smith Alexander-Powell, Olivia Sprague, Katie Avram, Melissa Avram, Giordano Gangl, Tony Nikolakopoulos, Monique Heath, Sophie Cusworth, Finegan Sampson, David Rock, Richard Whybrow, Felicity Steel, Lucinda Armstrong Hall, Maja Sarosiek, Vanessa Crouch, Eliza Matengu, Sophie Van Den Akker, Madeleine Dixon, Hayley Butcher, Rebecca Cullinan, Alicia Pavlis, Ewa Bartecki, Arielle O'Neill, Alexis Fernandez, Kristie Jandric, Marky Lee Campbell, Rob Jenkins, Raj Sidhu, Annabelle Norman, Scott Norman, Kristen Norman, Michael Norman, Louise Talmadge, Carolyn Shakespeare-Allen, Noel Herriman, Ray Tiernan

Release: 2014-08-28

Runtime: 97

Plot: Predestination chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to prevent future killers from committing their crimes. Now, on his final assignment, the Agent must stop the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time and prevent a devastating attack in which thousands of lives will be lost.
Predestination (2014)

The Australian film Predestination was not what I had expected. I had vaguely thought it was an action movie about time-travelling agents, but it turned out to be something much more subtle and complex than that, with very little action. It is based on Heinlein's short story "-All You Zombies-", which I don't remember reading. The plot did however remind me of another short story by the same author, By His Bootstraps, which is explained by the fact that AYZ is reportedly a kind of developed version of the ideas in BHB. It also reminded me of the more recent film Looper, reviewed on this blog in Febrary 2013.

Predestination is the kind of film which it is very difficult to write about without spoilers. So I will just say that it involves a whole layer-cake of time-travel paradoxes piling on each other, with scenes sometimes replayed from different viewpoints to reveal entirely different perspectives on events. It is clever and absorbing, but you have to be on your mental toes to keep up. The downside is that this is yet another film which demonstrates that single-timeline time-travel is really not possible for practical (as opposed to technological) reasons. I enjoyed the gradual revelation of what was actually going on, but at the end was left feeling "but that's completely impossible!", even though each individual element seemed logical (sort of). Despite this, if you like this kind of puzzle, watch the film!

(This entry is cross-posted from my science-fiction & fantasy blog.)
As Anthony mentions above, the movie Looper comes to mind as the topic of having to close time travel paradox loops comes into play.

But... even with the paradoxes, the loop in Predestination should be impossible because there is no starting point, just the loop itself which must be maintained, hence the 'predestination paradox' presented. If you ignore that part for a minute, there is an aspect to the loop that is also a bit of "What?! Ewww." when you realize exactly what's going on. If you've read the Heinlein short story then you already know what I'm talking about but, if not, then you may be more familiar with the Futurama episode "Roswell that Ends Well". In that episode, the Planet Express crew travels back in time to 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, and, while temporarily stuck in the past, Fry gets friendly with his own future grandmother. The short story, and in the movie, takes that premise further. Much, much, further.

It was an interesting watch if for no other reason than what was hinted at as the movie plays out. In an alternate history the advancement of space exploration is handled quite differently thanks to organizations like SpaceCorp that arranges for women to 'comfort' male astronauts and the Temporal Bureau which is a government agency with time traveling agents.

Really, though, the movie has made me realize that either I have not read as much of Heinlein as I should've or I've forgotten a good bunch of it. Both All You Zombies and By His Bootstraps have been added to my reading queue. 📖

Similar threads

Noah (2014)
Tagline: The end of the world is just the beginning.
Genre: Drama, Adventure
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Release: 2014-03-07