Warning! Warning! This following is discussion extensively my thoughts on the predestination paradox and so contains major spoilers for Predestination. Read ahead at your own risk…
So seeing we are talking about the concept of the predestination paradox what better film to talk about then Predestination, another favourite Sci-fi film that may have gone under your radar released in 2014. The film is a time-travel narrative about a time agent that has to stop the Brooklyn Bombings only to set in course those exact same events. The film may sound at first like a big blockbuster but it’s a more intimate story of one “man” setting up the future. It’s less Back to the Future more intimate drama with some great Sci-Fi elements. It’s a film I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it already, a very mind-warping film that has an interesting time-travel story. Check out the trailer below but I recommend you watch it blind.
A film starring Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawk as the exact same character is a Sci-Fi Thriller that uses an interesting twist to the time-travel formula. Instead of changing the past by killing the villain or antagonist to prevent these bombings, the story is about the life of this man who turns out to be his own mother, father and the bomber he’s being trying to stop this entire time. Did I say mind-warping before, I really meant fucked-up. The film takes the thriller perspective, the cop (time agent) and the killer and spins it right on its head, it’s interesting to watch honestly, especially as a fan of both genres. To explore this properly, I would like to first look at the event that starts the whole journey, a failed attempt to catch the bomber.
What becomes from a film where you think the main idea is to find this bomber and change the past instead becomes a wild-ride where events are put into motion and one time agent must set up his own birth and faith. Similar with Donnie Darko, this is where things get a bit complicated but it’s best to start at the very beginning. The scene where the bomber avoids capture and burns our protagonist. Not only does he get plastic surgery, he’s now Ethan Hawk a bar owner and undercover time agent and that’s only the beginning.
The film begins as a very traditional cop/secret agent movie with a sci-fi twist taking the of time agents and how they can be used to stop similar crimes such as the Boston Bombings (a concept that we’ve seen countless times before, especially in the likes of shows such as Doctor Who and Legends of Tomorrow). What is done, however, is flipping it on its head and making it a more intimate story about this one man/woman’s life which gets shown throughout the film, it’s very much a sci-fi confession story. Where we properly begin our story is in an unlikely place for a Sci-Fi movie, a bar in the 1970’s. What follows is an unusual story, a man that was once a woman, an orphan who met a man and after a difficult birth becomes a man, (probably not the best description but if you’ve watched it yourself, it should make sense).
What comes next is what makes the film interesting and makes for a unique time travel story, whilst we hear the history of this man who was once a lonely woman who stubbles through her life looking for good work and to be accepted, these are general story beats that we often see in most dramas. A transgender allegory maybe and an interesting enough story, especially in this confined form of filmmaking, it’s a decent period-piece. They’re at their lowest point; their baby gone, the father missing and a woman now a man not from their own decision, a confession story that’s about to be turned on it’s head.
So, in short, the man in the bar is his own father and mother and without that our main character won’t exist. They are the same person following one route, if this weren’t to happen, they would not be born and making the kidnapping and loneliness all the more tragic. If they don’t follow this simple path, they will simply come into inexistence, a bittersweet example of the predestination paradox. They can only follow one path, it can’t be changed even if killing the Boston Bomber because it is them, they have this eventual duty to kill these people to potentially save a lot more and putting the future right in a twisted but interesting way. This makes it even more interesting to watch play out when I re-watched the film again recently. As he says in the final scene, “They are all just puppets”. Not just to fate but in their own paradox, it can never change our lives could be at stake.
Now this movie isn’t perfect but damn do I love every bit of it from it’s interest way of presenting the harming effects of time-travel and how fucked up the concept can be if you look at it in a certain way. What happens if you became your own father? Is your fate always meant to be a certain way or can it be changed? It’s a Thriller with Sci-Fi elements in the best way, it’s intimate and small in scope but still leaves touches of an untapped universe (which thankfully they didn’t expand on). It’s a very natural feeling use of time and it’s concepts and acted fantastically by it’s main leads. It’s not the most complex movie even but like Memento, it’s interesting and a mind-blowing first watch, nonetheless.
With that final note, that’s enough from me for today, Predestination is a film I think doesn’t get enough attention and I’m glad to talk about it today. I might even touch on it later, maybe not but it’s possible. However, I would love to know your personal thoughts on it fellow Future thinkers and Intergalactic travellers down in the comments below…
10 thoughts on “Temporal Agents, Reshaping the Past and Learning to Love yourself: A Discussion of the predestination paradox with Predestination…”
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