Predestination (film)

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Predestination poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byThe Spierig Brothers
Produced by
  • The Spierig Brothers
  • Mohan Lal
  • Paddy McDonald
Screenplay byThe Spierig Brothers
Based on"'—All You Zombies—'"
by Robert A. Heinlein
Music byPeter Spierig
CinematographyBen Nott
Edited byMatt Villa
Distributed byPinnacle Films
Stage 6 Films
Release date
  • 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.


As a time travelling agent is trying to disarm a bomb, he is confronted by a person who tries to stop him and gunfire duel takes place between them. During this, the time travelling agent manages to reach the bomb again to disarm it. The bomb explodes and burns his face. Someone approaches and helps him to grasp his time travelling device, which then transports him to a hospital in the future. While the agent is recovering from facial reconstruction as he suffers from symptoms of psychosis, it is revealed that he has been trying to prevent the attack of the so-called "Fizzle Bomber" in New York in 1975. After his recovery, he receives his last assignment.

The agent moves to 1970s New York. As a bartender, he starts a conversation with one of the customers. The customer, John, writes true confession articles under the pen name "The Unmarried Mother." This pseudonym is explained by his own life story, which he tells the agent, who is now the bartender.

Born female, the customer grew up as "Jane" in an orphanage. She excelled in her studies but had difficulty fitting in. Jane decided any children she had would be raised in a proper family, and thus avoided relationships. As an adult she applied for a program called "Space Corp", which promised women the chance to go to space while providing astronauts with intimate R&R, but she was later disqualified because of a medical condition which had never before been revealed to her, but which greatly interested a man named Robertson.

In 1963, Jane later bumped into a man who said he was waiting for someone. The two eventually fell in love with each other, but one day, the man disappeared. In time, Robertson approached Jane, revealing that Space Corp was really a part of the Temporal Agency, and this agency now wanted to recruit her. They broke off contact when it was discovered that Jane was pregnant with her ex-lover's baby. While performing a Caesarean section, doctors discovered Jane was intersex, with internalized male sex organs, as well as female sex organs. Complications during the birth forced them to remove her female sex organs; she was then forced to undergo a gender reassignment and begin living as a man. Furthermore, the baby was stolen by a mysterious man. Ever since then Jane, who now goes by John, has been living a bitter life, writing fiction as "The Unmarried Mother."

The agent offers to take John back in time to the day that Jane met the man who would later become her lover and leave her, so John can take revenge and kill the man for ruining his (Jane's) life. In return, John will take over the agent's job for whatever duration he wishes. The agent reveals his time-travel device, and the two jump to that day in 1963. John intends to kill his past lover prior to the moment when the lover first meets Jane. While waiting, John encounters Jane, and as they begin talking, John realizes that he is the man who later becomes Jane's lover. The baby born from this "self-fertilization" is stolen by the agent, who uses the time machine to take the baby to the orphanage, 18 years earlier in 1945. Therefore, Jane, John, and their baby are the same person, revealing a predestination paradox.

The agent goes to 1975 New York, where he helps the burned man from the beginning of the film. The agent returns to 1963, a few months after he dropped John off. He convinces John that John must leave Jane behind, and he uses the machine to take them both to the Temporal Agency. John now takes over the agent's job, so the agent can retire in 1975 New York, close to the day of the Fizzle Bomber's attack. Upon entering this time period, the agent discovers that the time-travel device does not decommission itself as planned and can still be used. Following orders, he goes to a laundromat at the moment the Fizzle Bomber will be there. The Fizzle Bomber turns out to be the agent's own future self, now suffering from psychosis as a result of excessive time travel. The Fizzle Bomber insists that his actions have saved and will save more lives than the lives lost because he bombed places before potential mass murderers could use them, and that they ultimately lead to the reinforcement of the Temporal Agency. He tries to convince the agent that the only way to end the cycle is for the agent to spare his life. The agent denies he will ever become the Fizzle Bomber and kills his future self.

The film finally reveals that in 1975, John is the man who traveled to New York and was burned while disarming a bomb. His subsequent facial reconstruction significantly changes his appearance, and it is now clear that Jane, John, the agent, and the Fizzle Bomber are all the same person. This agent's creation was ultimately orchestrated by Robertson to create an agent who has no ties to time. This temporal agent was responsible for both his own conception and death; he has driven the predestination paradox to its limit.




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 Robert A. 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]

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 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$5.5 million (US$5.6 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, Australia, 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 kilometres (0.93 mi) from the city of Melbourne's Central Business District (CBD).[16] Some scenes were shot at the Abbotsford Convent, located in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford, 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]


On 5 February 2014, some images from Predestination were released,[17] and on 21 July 2014, the first Australian trailer for the film was released.[18] On 25 September, another official trailer was released.[19]

Predestination's global premiere was held on 8 March 2014 at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, US.[20] 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."[21] 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.[22]

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.[23]

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."[24] The film also has a score of 69 out of 100 on Metacritic based on reviews from 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[25]

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."[20] 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."[26]

The lead character was variously described as transgender or intersex in different media articles.[27] Hawke told The Guardian that transgender issues are not the focal point of the film, but rather that the narrative is relevant to all people: "There's something about Predestination that actually does get at identity, for me".[7]


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.
  5. ^ "Arclight Films Snags the International Rights for the Spierig Brothers' Predestination". Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (14 May 2012). "'Predestination' eyes early 2013 shoot". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Alex Godfrey (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 Michael Bodey (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'". 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. ^ "Screen Australia Backs Ethan Hawke 'Predestination', 2 Other Projects". 5 September 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Sarah Snook Set To Star Opposite Ethan Hawke In 'Predestination'". 28 February 2013. 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. ^ "New 'Predestination' Imagery Hunts Itself From the Future!". 5 February 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  18. ^ Anderton, Ethan (21 July 2014). "Ethan Hawke Time Travels in the Aussie Trailer for 'Predestination'". Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  19. ^ Anderton, Ethan (25 September 2014). "Ethan Hawke Stops Crime Before It Happens in 'Predestination' Trailer". Retrieved 26 September 2014.
  20. ^ a b Chang, Justin (9 March 2014). "SXSW Film Review: 'Predestination'". Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  21. ^ "MIFF Opening Night Gala 2014". Melbourne International Film Festival. Melbourne International Film Festival. 31 July 2014. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  22. ^ "Predestination Sydney Premiere and Q&A with Spierig Brothers". Palace Cinemas. Palace Cinemas. 6 August 2014. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  23. ^ Evan Dickson. "Ethan Hawke Is Looking Rough In This Seven Minute PREDESTINATION Opening Scene". Collider. Complex. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  24. ^ "PREDESTINATION (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, 89Inc. 8 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  25. ^ "PREDESTINATION (2015)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. 9 January 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  26. ^ Karl Quinn (30 July 2014). "MIFF 2014 review: Predestination". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  27. ^ Henry Barnes (10 March 2014). "Predestination has Ethan Hawke running out of time". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  28. ^ "AACTA Winners & Nominees - 4th AACTA Awards". AFI / AACTA. AACTA. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.

External links[edit]