Sometimes going out to the theater is hard work. If you’re anything like me, the fact that you have to put on pants is already a huge disappointment. You’ve reached the end of your queue and have already seen everything worth seeing on Netflix, so what can you do? That’s right, I have a solution that you don’t need pants for! Rent something on Video On Demand (VOD). There’s a recent trend where films are being released online before they even hit theaters, and it’s usually cheaper than the price of admission. Every week when movies come out on VOD, I’ll narrow down the best one for that week. This week’s pick is: Predestination.
There are very few reasons to use the term “mindfuck.” It’s a crass, colloquial term, but sometimes there are no other words that deliver the same impact. UrbanDictionary defines it as: “An idea or concept that shakes one’s previously held beliefs or assumptions about the nature of reality.” Predestination is in itself a mindfuck minefield, but it is almost much more than that.
There’s a barkeep (Ethan Hawke) who travels to the past to try and stop an infamous bomber from killing thousands of people. Every time he goes back to stop the bomber, the plans seem to change, as if the bomber knows he’s coming. The key to stopping him lies with an unmarried mother (Sarah Snook) and her tragic past. The barkeep isn’t actually a barkeep, but a member of a secret organization of time travelers, headed by Mr. Robertson (Noah Taylor), that exists to ensure peace and prevent disasters. Many people here aren’t who they seem, but figuring that out as you watch the film is all part of the fun.
Without giving away any of the plot twists, this story isn’t necessarily new. It has existed for as long as the concept of time travel has. It has had many incarnations, from The Terminator to the show Futurama, but the writers/directors Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers, Undead) do this Twilight Zone-esque story more than justice by also not underestimating the viewer’s intelligence. You know a film succeeds in its mission when an easily preposterous story twist has you on the edge of your seat in suspense instead of laughing. The latter could have easily been the outcome from this rather unconventional film, but luckily, there are many elements that keep you ensnared and enthralled. The sometimes simple but elegant design of all the “future” tech is beautifully created to match what the idea of “modernity” at the time would be. The sets and costume design are also big proponents because they serve as reminders of what time period you’re in at that moment, since it does jump around a bit.
Unfortunately, I feel this film might fly a little under the radar, with many people never having heard of it at this point. The only real recognizable name in it would be Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), and he does great in his role. Hawke isn’t all too unfamiliar with this kind of sci-fi film, but it has been a while since he was in Gattaca. This serves as a reminder that he can still pull off being an action hero. Even though most people will automatically go to Hawke in the billing, the film draws your eyes to Sarah Snook, the film’s true (breakout) star. He performance in Jessabelle was the only saving grace of that film, and she has lent her same effervescence to this film. We get to see a test of her true ability and range, and I must say that I want more. As if there weren’t enough reasons to see Predestination, Snook easily makes it to the top of that list.
Even in January, usually one of the months known to have the worst new releases come out, there are gems for those who are looking. I can unequivocally say that Predestination is the best science fiction film of 2015. It has a cleverness to it that will leave you considering the paradoxical aspects of time travel while you enjoy the minimally beautiful production values and get introduced to Sarah Snook, who I know we will be seeing much more of in the future. You’ll easily wish you could travel back to the past and watch it again, but luckily all you have to do is hit ‘replay.’
RATING: ★★★★★★★★(8/10 stars)