Predestination (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byThe Spierig Brothers
Screenplay byThe Spierig Brothers
Based on"'—All You Zombies—'"
by Robert A. Heinlein
Produced by
  • The Spierig Brothers
  • Tim McGahan
  • Paddy McDonald
CinematographyBen Nott
Edited byMatt Villa
Music byPeter Spierig
Distributed byPinnacle Films
Stage 6 Films
Release dates
  • 8 March 2014 (2014-03-08) (SXSW Film Festival)
  • 28 August 2014 (2014-08-28) (Australia)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
Budget$5 million[2]
Box office$5.4 million[3]

Predestination is a 2014 Australian science fiction action-thriller film[4] written and directed by Michael and Peter Spierig. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, and Noah Taylor, and is based on the 1959 short story " '—All You Zombies—' " by Robert A. Heinlein.


In March 1975, an agent, while trying to stop a bombing in a public building in New York City, is caught in a gunfight. The bomb detonates causing severe burns to the agent. Someone unseen helps him grasp his time-travel device, which he uses to retreat to his employer's facility in 1992. His mission is considered a failure because the "Fizzle Bomber", the unidentified serial-bombing fugitive he confronted, remains uncaptured and would strike again another day, ultimately killing over eleven thousand people.

The agent recovers from his injuries, his face and voice altered by facial reconstruction surgery and vocal cord damage. Citing the dangers of the extensive usage of time travel during his career, his superiors force his imminent retirement. His doctor diagnoses him with symptoms of psychosis and depression but does not disclose this.

The agent is sent on his final mission. Working undercover in 1970 New York City as a bartender, he converses with a customer who writes true confession articles under the pen name "The Unmarried Mother". The reticent customer begins telling his own life story after much prompting.

Born female, the customer grew up as Jane in a Cleveland orphanage. Superior in intellect and physical strength but plain in appearance, Jane suffered as an unloved outcast and was never adopted. These qualities, however, led a man named Robertson to recruit her for SpaceCorp, a space flight organization seeking young women as R&R companions—sex partners—for male astronauts. During Jane's aptitude testing, a physical examination revealed an undiscovered, disqualifying medical condition. Keeping this a secret, Robertson rejected Jane under a pretense while promising to re-enlist her.

In 1963, Jane fell in love with a man by a chance encounter, briefly finding happiness before the man deserted her one day. Robertson finally revealed to Jane that SpaceCorp was a front to recruit elite operatives with no family ties for a secret government agency, but Jane became disqualified again due to being pregnant by her lover. While performing a Caesarean section, doctors discovered Jane was intersex. As a result of a forced hysterectomy due to birth complications, Jane underwent gender reassignment through a series of extensive surgeries. Amidst all this, her baby was abducted by an unidentified man. Resenting her lover for ruining her life, Jane adopted the name John and eventually relocated to New York City.

The agent offers John the chance to take revenge on his lover scot-free, in return for John taking over the agent's job. The agent time travels with John to Cleveland in 1963, admitting that he works for Robertson's secret agency, the Temporal Bureau, which uses time travel to prevent crimes. Following instructions for finding Jane in the past, John unwittingly falls in love with his younger self and realizes that the agent set him up to become Jane's lover. Despite knowing that their love is doomed, John cannot bring himself to break off their relationship.

Deviating from his mission, the agent illegally time travels to March 1975 to pursue the Fizzle Bomber once more. The Fizzle Bomber beats him in combat, leaving him to witness, and help, his earlier burned self. The agent expects to be executed, but Robertson excuses him, against the Bureau's protocols.

Continuing his mission, the agent brings Jane's baby, born from her self-fertilization by John, back in time to the Cleveland orphanage in 1945. Thus, Jane, John, and their baby are the same person, a predestination paradox.

The agent returns to 1963 and convinces John to leave Jane at the preordained time, inducting John into the Temporal Bureau in 1985 and completing his mission. Robertson extols the importance of John's future role at the Bureau as a unique operative with no ties to the past or future. The agent still regrets his failure to stop the Fizzle Bomber, but Robertson credits the Fizzle Bomber for motivating the Bureau's growth and success.

The agent retires to New York City in 1975 shortly before the March attack. He decommissions his time-travel device as instructed, but the device remains operational. He also finds that Robertson gave him an exact location and time where the Fizzle Bomber will be found. There, he discovers that the Fizzle Bomber is his future self, who claims that his bombings averted greater death tolls in alternate futures. The Bomber also claims that Robertson set up this path for him. Vowing that he will not become the Bomber, the agent guns down his older self.

John's surgical scars are shown on the agent's body, confirming that Jane, John, the agent, and the Fizzle Bomber are all the same person. Robertson knowingly orchestrated this agent's existence, responsible for both his own conception and death. On a tape recording left for John, the agent contemplates whether the future can be changed.




The film is based on the 1959 short story "—All You Zombies—" by Robert A. Heinlein.[5] At one point in an internal monologue in the film, the narrator quotes the story title. On 14 May 2012, the Spierig brothers—who had already written a screenplay—were announced as the directors of Predestination.[6] Peter Spierig explained in August 2014 that they remained close to Heinlein's 1959 short story.[7] They did not try to take apart the logic of the more than 50-year-old narrative: "... so we [Spierig brothers] worked on the [premise] that if there was a way to pick apart the logic, over that time it would have been done by now. We kind of say, 'let's trust the short story and trust that logic', so we stuck very closely to it."[8]

Ethan Hawke was selected for the lead role, while Wolfhound Pictures and Blacklab Entertainment collaborated to produce the film.[9] Hawke explained in November 2014 that he is a longtime fan of the science fiction genre, but he prefers its human elements, rather than special effects:

Whether it's Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, H. G. Wells or whoever ... that kind of mind-bendy science-fiction where you can really attack themes in a new way. And when I read Predestination it was like: "What the f*** did I just read?!"[7]


Arclight Films had bought the international rights to the film,[9] and on 18 May 2012, Tiberius Film attained the German rights to the film from Arclight.[10] On 23 May 2012, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired the American and some international rights to the film.[11]


On 5 September 2012, Screen Australia announced that it would finance the film as part of a A$4.8 million (US$3.6 million) investment in three feature films.[12]


On 28 February 2013, Snook signed on to star in one of the film's lead roles,[13] followed by Taylor, who joined the cast of the film on 13 May 2013. Also in 2013, Pinnacle Films secured the Australian and New Zealand distribution rights to the film.[14]


On 19 February 2013, pre-production was scheduled to begin on 25 February 2013, while shooting was scheduled to begin on 8 April 2013 in Melbourne, for a duration of six weeks.[15] By 13 May 2013, filming was underway.[14] Filming predominantly took place at the Docklands Studios Melbourne facility, located approximately 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the Melbourne city centre.[16] Some scenes were shot at the Abbotsford Convent, located in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, the foyer of 333 Collins Street, the University of Melbourne old quad, and at the RMIT Design Hub.[8]

In regard to Snook, the Spierig brothers explained to the media that they always seek to cast a lesser-known actor in their films. Michael Spierig later compared Snook's acting ability to that of fellow Australian actress Cate Blanchett. They also said that they prefer to film in Australia, with its rebates and incentives, but will film in any geographical location.[8]


Predestination's global premiere was held on 8 March 2014 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, US.[17] The film was then selected for the opening night gala of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), held at the Hamer Hall venue on 31 July 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. The MIFF promotional material described Predestination as a "distinctive blend of sci-fi, noir and crime fiction with a Bukowskian streak."[18] The Sydney premiere of the film, which also featured a live Q&A session with the directors, occurred on 6 August 2014 at the Palace Verona cinema.[19]

The film went on general release in the United Kingdom on 13 February 2015.[7] Following the release of two trailers, and a seven-minute excerpt that was published on 3 December 2014, Predestination premiered on 9 January 2015 in the United States.[20]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film had a score of 84% based on 111 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9 out of 10. The site's critical consensus stated: "Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure—and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook."[21] The film also has a score of 69 out of 100 on Metacritic based on reviews from 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22]

Variety magazine's review of the film called it an "entrancingly strange time-travel saga" that "succeeds in teasing the brain and touching the heart even when its twists and turns keep multiplying well past the point of narrative sustainability."[17] In anticipation of the MIFF opening night's screening, the Sydney Morning Herald's National Film Editor Karl Quinn called Snook's performance a "career-making role". In terms of the plot, Quinn states that it is "intriguing" even though it could "unravel at the slightest tug on a thread of loose logic."[23]

The lead character was variously described as transgender or intersex in different media articles.[24] Hawke told The Guardian that the narrative is relevant to all people: "There's something about Predestination that actually does get at identity, for me".[7]


Predestination won the 2014 John Hinde Award for Excellence in Science-Fiction Writing in the AWGIE Awards.[25]

Award Category Subject Result
Best Film Paddy McDonald Nominated
Tim McGahan Nominated
The Spierig Brothers Nominated
Best Direction Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Sarah Snook Won
Best Cinematography Ben Nott Won
Best Editing Matt Villa Won
Best Original Music Score Peter Spierig Nominated
Best Production Design Matthew Putland Won
Best Costume Design Wendy Cork Nominated
AFCA Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Director The Spierig brothers Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Sarah Snook Nominated
Best Cinematography Ben Nott Nominated
ACS Award Award of Distinction Won
FCCA Awards Best Film Paddy McDonald Nominated
Tim McGahan Nominated
The Spierig brothers Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Actress Sarah Snook Won
Best Cinematography Ben Nott Nominated
Best Editing Matt Villa Won
Best Music Score Peter Spierig Nominated
Best Production Design Matthew Putland Won
Toronto After Dark Film Festival Special Award for Best Sci-Fi Film Won
Special Award for Best Screenplay The Spierig brothers Won
Audience Award for Best Feature Film 2nd place

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "PREDESTINATION (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 3 October 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  2. ^ Karl Quinn (20 February 2013). "Ethan Hawke to make sci-fi film in Melbourne". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. ^ "Predestination (2014)". The Numbers. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  4. ^ "Arclight Films Acquires Spierig Bros.' 'Predestination'". TheWrap. 14 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Arclight Films Snags the International Rights for the Spierig Brothers' Predestination". Anythinghorror. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (14 May 2012). "'Predestination' eyes early 2013 shoot". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Godfrey, Alex (29 November 2014). "Ethan Hawke: 'Mining your life is the only way to stumble on anything real'". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Bodey, Michael (20 August 2014). "Spierig brothers tackle time travel in their new movie 'Predestination'". The Australian. Archived from the original on 21 August 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  9. ^ a b Shaw, Lucas (14 May 2012). "Arclight Films Acquires Spierig Bros.' 'Predestination'". Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  10. ^ Roxborough, Scott (18 May 2012). "Tiberius Takes Ethan Hawke Thriller 'Predestination'". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (23 May 2012). "Ethan Hawke Time-Travel Thriller 'Predestination' Bought By Sony". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  12. ^ Groves, Don (5 September 2012). "Screen Australia Backs Ethan Hawke 'Predestination', 2 Other Projects". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ Groves, Don (28 February 2013). "Sarah Snook Set To Star Opposite Ethan Hawke In 'Predestination'". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  14. ^ a b Blatchford, Emily (13 May 2013). "Noah Taylor joins Hawke, Snook in Predestination cast". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  15. ^ Swift, Brendan (19 February 2013). "Spierig brothers' Predestination to shoot in April". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  16. ^ Quinn, Karl (20 February 2013). "Ethan Hawke to make sci-fi film in Melbourne". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  17. ^ a b Chang, Justin (9 March 2014). "SXSW Film Review: 'Predestination'". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  18. ^ "MIFF Opening Night Gala 2014". Melbourne International Film Festival. 31 July 2014. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  19. ^ "Predestination Sydney Premiere and Q&A with Spierig Brothers". Palace Cinemas. 6 August 2014. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  20. ^ Evan Dickson (4 December 2014). "Ethan Hawke Is Looking Rough In This Seven Minute PREDESTINATION Opening Scene". Collider. Complex. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  21. ^ "PREDESTINATION (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, 89Inc. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  22. ^ "PREDESTINATION (2015)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  23. ^ Karl Quinn (30 July 2014). "MIFF 2014 review: Predestination". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  24. ^ Henry Barnes (10 March 2014). "Predestination has Ethan Hawke running out of time". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  25. ^ "AWGIE special awards 1973-2015" (PDF). AWG. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  26. ^ "AACTA Winners & Nominees - 4th AACTA Awards". AFI / AACTA. AACTA. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.

External links[edit]