The Closed Loop
By Adam Sturrock
Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Writer: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
“What if I can put him in front of you, the man that ruined your life. If I could guarantee you’d get away with it, would you kill him?”
Predestination must be one of the most convoluted “Guy walks into a bar” jokes of all time. At least, that is what one must think after watching the first 40ish minutes of the movie. While at times it twists and turns in ways that can cause migraines, perhaps it is too smart for its own good. It suffers from the problems that many time travel films suffer from, but with disbelief suspended, Predestination is a really fun, if not flawed film.
Predestination resembles in part, some of the mechanics of 2012 film, Looper. It depicts Ethan Hawke as a time travelling agent that has been sent back in time for one last mission before retirement in the hope of stopping a dreaded terrorist called the “Fizzle Bomber”, a mysterious figure who is constantly changing the dates of each attack, but worryingly, increasing the death count in each explosion. After a chance meeting in a bar with a slightly androgynous looking male with bitter memories, he sits him down for a lengthy story that intends to baffle and shock in equal measure, and hopefully recruit a future fighter for the cause.
While it pushes the idea of a time loop, chasing an antagonist through time, the mechanics of time travel take a back seat in order to place the characters and their development at center stage. Without spoiling much, actress Sarah Snook has a lot to keep on top of in this film as the protagonist, Jane, and admirably, she excels. If anything, Ethan Hawke seems to have been hired as a prompt for Snook; after each reminiscent memory is finished by Jane, Hawke’s character does little more but ask, “And what now?”
The Spierigs have been careful to meticulously craft scenes, taking their time to let the plot sink in and develop – it doesn’t rush things. While most directors would leave extended parts of one location on the cutting room floor, the Spierigs spend a good chunk of the film in a bar, recounting character backgrounds.
It’s a slow build for the most part, with each plot point unravelling and overlapping into one another. At times it became obvious where the story would go, with some blatant moments that really didn’t need to be there – a particular song that could be passed over on first listen, but after a second time it starts to wear – but it rarely faltered by its conclusion.
This film is sci-fi at its purest, not jumping in and treating its audience as idiots, but instead, establishing the motives before getting into the meat of the story. In terms of characters, I felt there wasn’t enough people to mix up the dialogue but the ones that existed in the story were there for a purpose and didn’t act as passengers to the story.