Saturday, 31 January 2015

Predestination (2014)

A sci-fi thriller that only really livens up in the final third, Predestination is a fun head-scratcher from the Spierig brothers, the men who also gave us Undead and Daybreakers (both fine films).

There are more than two people in the cast, but the focus of the film remains on Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke. The latter is, as we learn in the opening scenes, a time-traveller who has been trying to catch a killer for a number of years. The former? Well, Snook plays someone who may just lead Hawke right to his prey. But not before telling him a tale, one that describes a fairly unique, and interesting, life.

I'm loath to criticise Predestination, because in many ways it is everything that I want from my dark sci-fi fare. It IS interesting, it has some great ideas being thrown around, and the acting is pretty good. There are characters here that you become genuinely interested in, making you more invested in the twisty climax.

Yet there are also a number of big mis-steps. The biggest hurdle that the film can't quite overcome is the fact that about an hour of the movie, or possibly even a little bit more, is essentially nothing more than everything being set in place for the finale. Yes, many movies could be described that way, if you break them right down, but it's a much bigger problem here, especially during some scenes that may test the patience of viewers.

The other big problem that the film has is predictability. The Spierigs may think that they're always one step ahead of the viewer, but they're not. To be fair, there are a couple of times when they ARE (and these times raise up the whole film). It just doesn't happen as often as they think, with at least one major reveal completely robbed of any power due to how easy it is to see coming a mile away.

Hawke and Snook give good performances here, with the latter given the more difficult role and working even harder to make it consistently authentic (within the context of the rather outlandish premise). Noah Taylor has a small role, and does what's required of him, and that's about it. There are other people acting onscreen, but they're always background details for the story being told between the two main stars.

You could never accuse the Spierig brothers of a lack of imagination. While this may be their weakest movie yet, it's still an enjoyable experience. I will continue to look forward to seeing their names appear onscreen, whatever they decide to serve up next.


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