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The mother of all paradox examples is the universe. How did it begin, what happened before it began and before that. Throw in God and you understand that the humans understood the concept of a cyclical paradox (A kingdom with no beginning and no end). But that’s just for beginners in comparison to Predestination. As it unfolds, your head will be left spun dry - the throw in thoroughly completing the cycle.
Based on the 1959 Short story "All You Zombies" by Robert Heinlein, the twist alluded above may have had this film pitched to executives as transgendered time travel. So yes, if movies like Inception or Memento had you double taking over several viewings, a temporal wake may envelop as you try to unravel the timeline around a gender identity crisis.
The Paradox Begins to Bend
The film begins by keeping us under cover. A man in a coat and hat trying to defuse a bomb is confronted by a second man concealed in a baseball cap. Shots fired, the devise goes off and the diffuser is left with his face set ablaze. The villain known as the fizzle bomber escapes, and a third man enters the scene. He slides a violin case to the would be hero who disappears to the year 1992.
The triumvirate chase is now on.
Concealed by his hat, the fizzle bomber proves as elusive through a series of bombings that culminates with a blast that kills 10,000 in New York City of 1975. On other other end, the diffuser is burned beyond recognition, and exasperated on yet another time travel jump that ends in failure.
The agent’s face first revealed in the reconstructed form of Ethan Hawke, his employer positions him as a Barkeep to intersect his nemesis again at the next event horizon. So a chance encounter with a young man who has a story to tell shouldn’t throw you off.
“I began my life as a little girl,” says John and Hawke seems taken aback by the wrinkle.
She or Jane (Sarah Snook) was dropped as an infant at an orphanage in 1945 and grew up an outcast, while excelling at math and science. This would lead to a job offer from an early version of the space program from the mysterious Mr. Robertson, who’s fronting for the temporal police agency that Hawke is part of.
As fate - if you will - would have it, the biology alluded to at the offing begins a cycle. The tragedy unfolds after a first love who can do far more than complete her sentences suddenly disappears and leaves her pregnant.
The birth reveals dual sex organs, and plays havoc with her female agenda. The doctors inform her that reconstructive male surgery is her only hope, and she has no choice but to relent.
The Room Starts to Spin Paradoxically
Now in full gyration, the timeline puts your couch in centripetal motion.
The action moves between 1945 (Jane’s birth), 1963 (Jane’s pregnancy), 1975 (the main bombing) and 1992 (the opening scene). It’s then to be expected that they meet each other, and gender is bent around the continuum.
As the shifts intertwine them, the stakes are raised with each subsequent choice, and the prospect of the greater good weighs on the trio as the personal sacrifice elevates in kind.
Of course, the people in charge take the high ground in search of the optimum outcomes without sharing the descent. “He will save millions of lives,” Robertson tells the Barkeep.
That leaves one wondering whether their all knowing tradeoff in body counts is as suspect as the dubious manipulation of the main characters, and the cycle they are trapped in. “It’s like a snake swallowing his tail through eternity,” Hawke resigns himself and the film to its predetermined fate.