Predestination (film)

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Predestination poster.jpg
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.


As a time-travelling agent disarms a bomb, someone tries to stop him and a gunfight ensues. The agent reaches the bomb again, but it explodes, burning his face. Someone helps him grasp his time-travelling device, which transports him to a hospital in 1992. The agent recovers from facial reconstruction and symptoms of psychosis. He has been trying to prevent an attack by the so-called "Fizzle Bomber" in New York City in 1975. After his recovery, he receives his last assignment.

The agent travels to 1970 New York. As a bartender, he starts a conversation with a customer who writes true confession articles under the pen name "The Unmarried Mother". This pseudonym is explained by his life story.

Born female, the customer grew up as Jane in a Cleveland 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 avoided relationships. As an adult she joined Space Corp, which promised women the chance to go to space while providing astronauts with intimate R&R, but was disqualified because of an undisclosed medical condition that greatly interested a man named Robertson.

In 1963, Jane met a man who was waiting for someone. The two fell in love, but one day the man disappeared. Robertson later approached Jane, revealing that Space Corp was a part of the Temporal Agency, which wanted to recruit her. They broke off contact when Jane became pregnant with her ex-lover's baby. While performing a Caesarean section, doctors discovered Jane was intersex. Complications during the birth forced them to remove her female sex organs; she then underwent gender reassignment and began living as a man named John. Her baby was stolen by a mysterious man, and John has lived a bitter life writing fiction as "The Unmarried Mother".

The agent offers to take John to the day that Jane met the man who became her lover and left her, so that John can kill the man for ruining Jane's life. In return, John will take over the agent's job. The agent reveals his time-travel device and the two jump to 1963 Cleveland. While waiting for Jane's lover, John encounters Jane, and as they talk, John realizes that he is the man who becomes Jane's lover. The baby born from this self-fertilization is stolen by the agent, who takes the baby to 1945, leaving the child at the orphanage where Jane was raised. Jane, John, and their baby are the same person, a predestination paradox.

The agent goes to 1975 New York and helps his burned self. The agent then returns to 1963, a few months after he dropped John off. He convinces John to leave Jane, and uses his time machine to take them both to the Temporal Agency in 1985. John 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. 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 future self, suffering from psychosis from continued time travel. The Fizzle Bomber insists that his actions saved more lives than have been lost because he bombed places before potential mass murderers could use them. He tries convincing the agent that the only way to end the cycle is for the agent to spare his life, but the agent kills his future self.

As the agent stares at the time-travel device, it is revealed that John is the man who traveled to 1975 New York and was burned while disarming a bomb. His facial reconstruction in 1992 changes his appearance, and Jane, John, the agent, and the Fizzle Bomber are the same person. This agent's creation was orchestrated by Robertson to create an agent with 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 agent wonders if he can ever escape this loop.




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$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 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, 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 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. ^ 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. 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. Palace Cinemas. 6 August 2014. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  20. ^ Evan Dickson. "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. ^ "AACTA Winners & Nominees - 4th AACTA Awards". AFI / AACTA. AACTA. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2015.

External links[edit]