“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”


Predestination is a cerebral, tightly constructed science fiction film from the Spierig brothers who created the refreshingly original vampire world of Daybreakers (also starring Ethan Hawke). Telling a good time travel story requires leaning into the paradoxical nature of causation rather than believing oneself smart enough to write around it (even if you are Robert Heinlein, on whose short story the film is based). Here, as the title suggests, the question is whether there are immutable events that are destined to occur. The film’s central mysteries are not overly complicated and those paying attention should be able to predict several story beats in advance. Watching the neat arrangement unfurl remains satisfying and in fact the explicit reveal in the final few minutes may feel rushed for those not already up to speed. Although she may receive second billing, Sarah Snook is arguably the film’s true lead, with the most nuanced and varied performance. Another interesting choice is the alternate 1970s setting, reflecting Heinlein’s then-future setting for the story. It is remarkable that Predestination fits into a running time of just 97 minutes, and its strict focus on the essential can leave it feeling a little sparse. However, for fans of thoughtful science fiction, this is a hidden gem that deserves greater recognition.