Most of the time travel films are pure intellectual exercises. Time travel is often confusing because it's impossible. It's generally paradoxical in movies because of its inherent implausibility. When it's portrayed in films, too often the ins and outs of time travel are hijack the narrative. It's all you can think about while watching the film and trying to connect the dots, not the drama. That's not the kind of experience Predestination is. It's an emotional journey more than anything. It's far from lacking in smarts and well-planted turns, but the emotion of it is so perfectly coordinated that you leave the theater thinking about its devastating and, sometimes, moving moments, not all its rules about time travel.
The set up is simple: plays a man who stops crimes by traveling in time. His biggest case is a New York bomber that had a major had in the inner workings of the company he's employed by. Still, it's his job to stop the bomber, at all cost.
You should know nothing more about this film. Writers and directors Michael and Peter Spierig consistently keep their audience on their toes. This isn't a guessing game story. There's a mystery unraveling in the film, but you're never ahead of the movie because what's happening onscreen is so engaging you're not thinking about what comes next next.
The directors behind Daybreakers prove they're capable of writing genuinely good drama to backup their genre thrills. There's an expository exchange and flashback that lasts 30 minutes or more, most of which taking place in a bar between two characters. Any other film would've rushed through this key story point in mere minutes, but the Spierig brothers take their time, fully trusting their material and two actors, Ethan Hawke and . Snook is, in particular, is terrific. Often she's buried under makeup, and thanks to well done makeup effects and an emotionally compelling performance, not once is Snook's character seen through the prism of an actor buried under makeup.
Hawke matches the power Snook brings to the film. They share some emotional scenes together that make Predestination more than a B-genre movie. The Spierig brothers could have used this concept simply for a kickass action movie, but instead they found a very focused emotional arc to follow.
Their script is airtight. By the end, all the cards fall into place. If a reveal happens, it makes complete sense based on visual clues and expressions, which are all pretty subtle, with maybe one exception. The Spierig brothers pepper in some action, but it's all driven by character. If a gunshot goes off, it has an impact beyond some bloody squibs.
This is not a movie driven by its genre. This is a character-driven film, first and foremost. Predestination is a great drama, but it also entertains as a slickly produced thriller.