Movie Review: Predestination

Movie Review: Predestination

Predestination – the idea that someone other than yourself predetermines every outcome in your life – is a thorny issue for Christians. How can it be otherwise when the Bible maintains God’s sovereignty over every event – as well as our responsibility? But just when you think you might be able to dodge the topic, […]

By Mark HadleyWednesday 27 Aug 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Predestination – the idea that someone other than yourself predetermines every outcome in your life – is a thorny issue for Christians. How can it be otherwise when the Bible maintains God’s sovereignty over every event – as well as our responsibility? But just when you think you might be able to dodge the topic, Hollywood prepares to release a major motion picture called…you guessed it, Predestination.

Movie Review: Predestination

In this past-and-future science-fiction adventure, Ethan Hawke stars as the Bartender, the man behind a long stretch of mahogany whose business is clearly not pouring drinks. He strikes up a conversation with a young customer known only as ‘The Unmarried Mother’. He bets he can tell a much more outrageous story than his drinker can. What unfolds is a time-twisting tale involving their past and future selves, a killer called The Fizzle Bomber and a secretive agency called the Temporal Police. Based on the award-winning Robert Heinlein story called “All You Zombies”, it’s one of those mind-bending scripts that would be in good company with Inception, Memento, Sixth Sense and Donnie Darko. As such, I’m unlikely to be thanked for giving away too much here. However the plot hinges on the Bartender’s offer to help the Unmarried Mother get his hands on the person who ruined his life and the real twist lies in whom he’s actually talking about.

Hollywood didn’t create the paradox of predestination; it’s merely created another framework to consider what is intrinsically a religious issue. Are we all puppets in a historical play that has been written long ago? Or does free will rule out fate? Some would say the Bible isn’t much help here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” – Romans 8:29

This is what the Bible refers to as God’s sovereignty, and He doesn’t just reign over matters of salvation but all thoughts, words and deeds a person chooses…and is destined to do. But the paradox only lasts until you consider that we are comparing apples and oranges. The paradox of choice is one that only exists for creatures inside of time, where everything is linear. Cause followed by effect. God, however, exists outside of time – it’s the framework for our existence that He created in Genesis 1. Under its arc, we are wholly responsible for every decision we make, and the consequences that flow from them. Something Hawke both warns and assures his recruit about:

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The Unmarried Mother: “Do I have a choice?”

The Bartender: “You always have a choice.”

But time means nothing to God. He’s outside of it. His greatness is such that He crafts His plan for the universe so that it incorporates rather than violates our free will. Our decisions are our own, as are the consequences, but He determines that they will accomplish His purposes. 

In Predestination the heroes have to decide whether their choices will bring about their salvation or the destruction they’re so desperately trying to avoid. Strangely our own fact isn’t that far removed from this entertaining fiction. So long as we live in this thing called time we have a choice, and that choice – amazingly – will be honoured by the God of the universe. But once we leave this body, once we leave time, that decision becomes fixed. The question is, will we happy with the role we’ve played in the future God is planning for us? Will we be happy with the effect our actions have caused.

Rating: M
Distributor: Pinnacle Films

Release: August 28