Predestination

Ethan Hawke must stop murders before they happen in this trippy, time-traveling sci-fi romp

Ethan Hawke in 'Predestination.' Credit: Ben King/Sony

To try and wrap your head around the plot of Predestination can only lead to madness. Don't get me wrong: The movie itself is a trip. Just jump off the cliff and go with the Spierig brothers, Peter and Michael, as they whoosh into the labyrinth of their own fervid imaginations. If you get stuck and feel lost — and you will — don't sweat it. As writers and directors, the German-born, Aussie-bred brothers had a solid starting place for Predestination: Robert A. Heinlein's 1960 short story, All You Zombies.  Then they take it from there. Boy, do they ever.

Ethan Hawke, at his mesmerizing best, stars as the Temporal Agent, a time-traveler with a mission to stop future murders before they can happen. Before you can say Looper, the agent is tending bar in 1970's New York and chatting up a guy (Sarah Snook) who writes magazine stories under the byline "The Unmarried Mother." The Mother's backstory involves growing up in an orphanage in 1940's Cleveland. Stay with me. The Mother is really an intersex creature forced to transition into male form under bizarre circumstances that involve a 1960's government space experiment that...

Look, I could go on. Better that you just throw yourself into this tale and cogitate about it later. If getting stoned helps, so be it. One thing's for sure: You won't be able to take your eyes off Snook, an Aussie actress who makes whatever sex she's playing almost irrelevant. You watch her. You hear her. You believe. It's a dynamite performance. Hawke, who worked with the Spierigs on 2010's Daybreakers, gravitates to movies that don't play by the rules. Predestination sure as hell doesn't. Any frustration you feel about losing your bearings fades in face of the film's ultimate kick.