Predestination's trailer is one of false hopes. Gunplay and explosions are ever present, interspersed with a time travel element made to look like Time Cop 2, only without the splits of JCVD. Time Cop 2 may be overselling it (or under selling depending upon how much you like dumb action movies), but the trailer was misleading. It's still, definitely intriguing, but it's a completely different, and a more than pleasantly surprising experience once you actually watch it.
Plot - Predestination Review
If is very difficult to explain the plot of Predestination without giving away vital information that would ruin the experience. That said, it's not just the twists that make the movie, but how they are intricately woven together to tell the story. There are two mysteries, one, who is the antagonist, and two; what the hell does a particular conversation (near the beginning of the film) have to do with the first mystery?
The first few scenes sets up Ethan Hawke's character and create the conflict with some action, but after this initial setup the film's tone changes considerably. Hawke's character, is sent back in time, but it's not clear exactly why this particular date and location was targeted. A bomber is loose and he's looking for any information to help him catch the Fizzle Bomber before the "next" strike. What unfolds is absolutely brilliant, and has quite the proverbial "twist."
Predestination jumps into and from several different time periods over the course of the film all while being connected by the storyteller's autobiography. What follows is the story of someone who's had a tough, but accomplished upbringing that leads to a series of "aided" events that literally transforms them. And that's really the journey, it's not the mystery of the bomber, it's how a particular character fits into it all.
Predestination is filmed very cleanly. There are very little grand exterior shots, no slow motion, but everything is sharp.
There are a few clever shots thrown in, shots that help to create mystery by only showing specific angles of a scene which hide a character. There are shots that come in very tight on a character to illustrate helplessness and pain.
The most effective piece of cinematography are the differences between time periods. The cinematography of Predestination makes the ability to discern between time periods simple by the filters of applied to each. Partly due to the set design, the clean look of the future is bright and white. The scenes in the past are appropriately colored to match the bland attire and interior decorations with olive drab among brown and yellow variations. It can be subtle and subliminal but effective.
Partly due to the complicated story telling and plot, the music does nothing to standout. The musical themes are unmemorable, but not necessarily poor. The film's score certainly does nothing to harm the overall value of the film.
Ethan Hawke gets top billing, and he's fine, but Sarah Snook is the standout performer in Predestination. Her role is so complicated (which cannot be explained without spoiling the film) that the transformation her character takes is benefited from her ability to project many different traits. Predestination isn't a film where there are a lot of performances to begin with, so if Snook's didn't stand out, it would absolutely dilute the film's quality.
Hawke as an undercover agent does get a chance to apply multiple character traits as well. His take on a bartender in search of the Fizzle Bomber is natural and charming versus his take as a more traditional "cop." There are some emotional moments, and like previously stated, Hawke does well to convey them, but he is overshadowed by Snook.
Predestination Review Reflection
For fans of a thinking man's, mind bending science-fiction, this adaptation of a Robert A. Heinlen short story is a satisfying film. The trailer is misleading, and unfortunately that may have mismarketed the film as an action film, when what Predestination does is ask questions about destiny and fate, and whether or not those are variable outcomes or predetermined.