Predestination Movie Poster

Predestination Explained & Reviewed: Breaking Down The Climax

Predestination movie explained as a thrilling science fiction revolved around a time-traveling agent named Doe who traveled back in time to recruit himself in order to stop a so-called Fizzled bomber. Central to the movie are themes of love, hope, and despair.

Central also to the movie is a baby and for the sake of simplifying the movie, let’s call that baby ‘Predestination baby’. A Predestination baby named Jane finds love (A writer who called himself the ‘Unmarried woman’) but their love was short-lived forcing Jane to live with the pain.

Jane soon discovered she is with child and just as she was starting to feel alive with the birth of her baby she was forced to relive her pain when a mysterious man stole her baby. The Predestination baby explanation requires an understanding of the Predestination Paradox. What comes first the chicken or the egg?

When we discover that Jane, Agent Doe, and the Unmarried man were all but one and the same person we are caught in the Predestination paradox.

The Predestination baby created Jane, Jane created John, John created Agent Doe until finally, we discover that the baby itself is a creation of the union between John and Jane. Hence, to answer the question to the chicken and egg story is to get ourselves caught in a causal loop, the Predestination Paradox.

Read on to have Predestination Explained!


Original creation of the Directors (The Spierig Brothers) or an adaption from some other source?


The movie Predestination is actually based on a short-story All you zombies’ written by Robert A. Heinlein. This short story begins with a dialogue between a bartender and a young lad who writes confession stories under the pseudonym ‘The Unmarried Woman’. The time is November 1970 at the bar named “Pop’s Place”.  Keen to learn how a man writes from a woman’s angle the bartender placed a full bottle on the table. A future reward if the story behind the birth of the ‘Unmarried Woman’ is deemed worthy. And so the words poured out it beginning with the tale of an abandoned intersex infant.

Left at an orphanage ‘The Unmarried Woman’ was raised as a woman. When she lost all hope of being adopted by loving parents she decided to join W.E.N.C.H.E.S (Woman’s Emergency National Corps, Hospitality & Entertainment Section) who known as Space Angels where women were specially recruited to give men who in space physical company. A euphemism really!

To better her chances of getting recruitment she started taking Charm classes at night while during the day she worked as a mother’s helper.  The ‘Space Angels’ don’t necessarily have to be virgins but the one condition was that no girl recruited should be with child. That’s when she met a man, fell in love and like any sappy love story ended with one broken heart. What’s even worse was that she was with child. When she could no longer work as help and her dream of becoming a Space Angel crushed like a pulp, no orphanage to turn to she ended up at a charity ward.


Ignorance is bliss but not for long. She delivered a healthy baby but she was soon to face two heart-wrenching tragedy. One, her baby was snatched with no trace of the culprit and the baby anywhere. As if one tragedy isn’t enough she was soon to learn she had a unique condition. Gently the doctor informed her about her ‘unique’ condition and due to the damage to her female organs how she had to undergo a sex surgery. Bliss Indeed! No longer a woman, as a young man he tried to join the Space Corp but one look at the scar where he had a cesarean he was dismissed. So he changed his name, moved to New York and became a writer and thus the birth of the ‘Unmarried Woman’.


If that young lad thought it was going to be just another November evening he was wrong for the bartender knew his whole God-forsaken story. He knows who took the scoundrel who stole the baby, the man he claimed to be in love with, Hell! He knew even his name while he was a woman. Jane, he was! And using all information as a bargaining chip, the bartender asked if he would be interested in the job we could offer if he (the bartender) offered the scoundrel who broke Jane’s heart. “It’s a deal” came the reply.


Like a helpless sheep the young lad followed the bartender and using a time machine took the young man back to memory Lane, He was back in 1963. As for the Bartender, he made a quantum leap to 1964, went to the Hospital where Jane had just delivered a baby and without anyone noticing, quickly hustled out of the hospital with the baby and jumped further back to 1945 where he found baby Jane sleeping soundly. He took baby Jane in a grocery box and left him at the porch of the orphanage and then jumped back to 1963. He gleaned in to watch as Jane met his mysterious man while the young lad was soon to find out that it was him all along that Jane had fallen in love with. He had fallen in love with himself.


Now, that he had come face to face with the man who broke Jane’s heart and a deal is a deal, without putting up a fight, the young lad was no longer the ‘Unmarried Woman’ but now fast forward to 1985 he was a fresh recruit at the Temporal Bureau. After finishing the job, the bartender traveled to his present in 1993 and as he retires to bed his thought was flooded not by anything but one, Jane! And how he missed her dreadfully.


Related in Movie Explainers: The Lobster 


Predestination Cast: Brief Character Sketch On Key Characters


Agent Doe/Bartender
Agent Doe/Bartender played by Ethan Hawke he is the agent working at the temporal Bureau sent to recruit fresh agent as his last assignment. He plays a bartender as he listened attentively to the story of a young writer with the pen-name “Unmarried Woman” who, as expected, is supposed to be his last recruit.
Jane abandoned at an orphanage, young Jane struggles with abandonment during his brief existence as Jane. No parents to love her and no family willing to adopt her because of her unfortunate appearance fell in love with the wrong man. Love begets a child only to have it stolen by a mysterious man. While Jane still grappled with the pain she had to face another trauma: her unique condition where she has both vital sexual organs. Since childbirth destroyed her feminine organs she was forced to undergo a sexual change where she had to unlearn everything she once knew while learning everything there is to know about a man.


Facing rejection from humane relations wasn’t the only thing that Jane had to face. Because of her sharp mental abilities and physical strength as compared to most women, she was among the few women recruited to join Space Corp. This was a corporation that sends men to space and during those lone years in space women were specially chosen to keep men company. All her hopes came crashing down when after a brawl she was removed from the programme until further notice. By the time Space Corp returned to offer her the position she was pregnant. Love life crashed and so did her career.

John author of “Confessions of an Unmarried Man”, John is actually the male version of Jane. As a writer, John lives in New York and forced to live every moment in pain and without purpose. Well, that was until the Time traveling Agent Doe offered him a new adventurous job: a time-traveling agent in the Temporal Bureau. John agreed to take up the bartender offer on the condition that Agent Doe takes him face to face with the man who stole his life so he could have his sweet revenge. Agent Doe succeeded and finally, John was recruited into the Bureau.
Robinson (Now, here’s a reason for fans of Game of Thrones) played by Noah Taylor (the man who played Locke, a man in the night’s watch in the HBO series Game of Thrones) came to the orphanage with the hope of recruiting Jane for her intelligence to Space Corp. While that was just a cover. Mr. Robinson actually works at the Temporal Bureau assigning individuals their duty.


Predestination Explained: Plot


Since the movie is about time-Travel let us understand the plot of the movie Let’s jump back and forth to a series of timeline. (We can’t do it in real life no matter how much we want to, so why not put it down in writing) The beginning of the movie shows a man wearing a trench coat and a Fedora without revealing his face tries to disarm a bomb. As he desperately tries to prevent an explosion, it backfired causing severe burn injuries. With the help of another man (again we have no clue who he is) he grabbed a box and next thing, you know the savior is lying in a hospital. Later, it shows that man was trying to prevent the bomb that exploded in New York in 1975.


Time: 6th November 1970. Place: Bar- Pop’s Place:

Pop’s Place In Predestination

As the man looked at his scarred face the movie spins itself backward into a bar where we find the scarred faced man now becomes a bartender. After looking at his watch he turns as if waiting for someone to walk in. Then came a fine young looking yet, bitter lad. As the young lad introduced himself and penmanship under the column “Confessions of an unmarried woman”, the bartender intrigued asked how a young lad like himself could possibly understand a woman’s angel. As the bartender poured out a drink into a glass, the young lad grudgingly told the story of how his story gave birth to the pseudonym “the unmarried woman”.


As more liquor poured out, the young lad whose actual name was John narrated the story of how he became John. John wasn’t always a man. Born with a condition that ails not most men- An intersex baby, John spoke about how he was dropped off at an orphanage by a mysterious man. At the Orphanage, John was brought up and raised as a woman and Jane was her name. Jane, due to her unique condition she was tougher than all the other girls at the orphanage. She possessed not just physical strength but superior mental abilities that far preceded any woman of her age. Unfortunately, her odd physical appearance left her alone and unloved. No parents looking to adopt a child wanted her when all she wanted was to have loving parents.


Then Hope arrived in the form of Dr. Robertson who recruited young women of special abilities to their agency called State Corp. Women of age were recruited to go to space by this corporation mostly to provide comfort to men in space who often spend a long time away from their family or loved ones. Though virgins were preferred it wasn’t a compulsion but no pregnant woman was allowed to join the men in Space. Her performance excelled but she was expelled when she was caught in a brawl with another woman. After she was kicked off from the recruitment program she sought ways in order to survive. During the day she worked as a Mother’s help. That included performing tedious jobs in the household. It was during this time she found a stash of magazines that documented true confession articles. And at night she attended ‘charm classes’ hoping that she could polish her manners in hope of re-entering the Space Corp programme.


Sometimes the universe plays a joke on you and Jane too became one such victim. One clichéd rainy evening, she bumps into a mysterious man. Soon Jane’s lonely heart found love, experienced physical intimacy until later she was abandoned. Hope again paid her a visit and offered her re-entry into Space Corp but once again those hope crashed when she discovered she was pregnant. The orphanage could not take back nor could she go back to her work and so she forced to live in a Charity Ward and left to fend for herself.  Her dream was long gone and her heart ‘pricked by love frickled thorn’, she awaited only the birth of her child hoping she could wrap up all her empty longings in her little bundle of joy. That hope too would soon crash and burn.


At the hospital, while she hoped to find joy through her newborn child that hope was stolen upon discovering her baby had mysteriously disappeared with no trace of the baby or anyone who could’ve taken her. As if that pain wasn’t enough Jane was forced to undergo sex corrective surgery. Her pregnancy and childbirth destroyed her female reproductive organs and advised her to take corrective surgery if she is to survive. After a long period of surgery and recovering from that surgery, slowing she learned all the traits of a man. Jane, now John still had the pre-requisite skills needed to join Space Corp so once gain tried his luck but to no avail. Dismayed and feeling hopeless changed his name to John he moved to New Year, pursued his career as a writer and thus “Confession of an Unmarried Woman” was born.


As the Bottle finished and words Frizzled out the bartender asked John what he would do if given the chance to meet that man who broke Jane’s heart and get away with whatever revenge he pursued. John swore revenge. John would soon come to realize his encounter with the bartender was no co-incidence for The Bartender knew the mysterious man and all about Jane even though he hadn’t mentioned the name Jane even once.


The Bartender then makes a proposition to John. He offered to give him a chance to face the man who stole his life, do whatever he wanted and go scot-free and in return, he’d take up the bartender’s job offer and that job wasn’t about bartending. Intrigued John decided to take up the offer and he followed the bartender into a storage room where finally using the time machine in the shape of a Ukulele box traveled back in time to the day John met young lady Jane.


Time: 3rd April 1963. Place: Cleveland, Ohio:

John Meets Jane And It Was Love At First Sight (1963)

As John waited for the man to arrive right at the spot where Jane met him he was baffled. He stood face to face with Jane and in that exact moment, John realized that the mysterious man that Jane fell in love with was a man none other than himself. As the Bartender watched from a distance as John stood face to face with Jane, he drifted off into another time and place.


Time: 2nd March 1970. Place: New York


As the Bartender thought to himself “if he doesn’t stop the frizzled Bomber he won’t get another chance” he deported himself back to the time where the bomber had planted the bomb. He distracted the Bomber so that past him could disarm the bomb. Here, we find another bizarre revelation where the Bartender walks towards the sound of an explosion and faces the man who struggled to save himself after the explosion and reached for the time machine. The man who helped him reach for the time machine was none other than the bartender himself.


Time: 2nd March 1964. Place: Hospital where Jane gave Birth


Bartender looks at Jane’s baby from a window as Dr. Robinson walks up to him. Here, we get a glimpse of the bond that the Bartender shares with Dr.Robinson. At the low point in his point when the bartender thought of how much pain he caused to Jane, he had questioned his own motives and actions Mr. Robinson stated “he as more than an agent…he creates History and influences what is to come…a Gift.. given to the world through a Predestination Paradox.. The only one free from history and ancestry”. To these, the bartender replied that he was the snake that eats his own tail. And as to what comes first the chicken or the egg the Bartender replied ‘The rooster’ indicating that he is, in fact, the rooster. After this brief and intimate conversation, the bartender stealthily walks into the room and steals Jane’s baby.


Time: 13th September 1945. Place: The Orphanage

Jane's Baby Dropped At The Orphanage

The bartender drops off the baby at the orphanage revealing in the process that the mysterious ma who dropped the baby at the orphanage was him all along.


Time: 24th June 1963. Place: The park where John left Jane never to return back


Here, John comes to the painful realization that the mysterious man who was actually him never meant to leave Jane and hurt her the way he did. With that, as he confronted that painful reality made a conscious decision to join the agency and with then he embarked on to his new mission in life.


Time: 12th August 1985. Place: The Headquarter of the Temporal Bureau


The Bartender makes the decision to retire as he looked at John with relieve having completed his last assignment


Time: November 1970. Place: The Bar, Pop’s Place


Takes the Bottle of alcohol placed on the table and tells his co-worker that he quits and walks out of the bar indicating that his job here is done.


Time: 7th January 1975. Place: Retirement Home for the Bartender


As the Bartender pushes the button for Decommissioning, the time machine box shows error. His mission isn’t over yet. As he looked at the last piece of evidence on the fizzled bomber he went straight to attack him and there he was staring straight at the Fizzled Bomber who is none other than himself.

All the time jumping hoops had created a psychosis and the Fizzled Bomber insisted that he (they) have saved more lives than lives lost. Like the snake that ate its time, it looks as though Agent Doe was caught in a causal loop with no end. Fearful of turning into a psychotic murderer Agent Doe killed the Fizzled Bomber thus ending the cycle. It became very clear towards the end that right from the Baby to Jane to John to Agent Doe up to the Fizzled Bomber it was, all along, the Brainchild of Dr.Robertson. The unseen mystery that worked to create history while the mystery had no ties to ancestry or time. The Predestined.


What is Predestination in World History?


The term Predestination became popular and most often associated with Christianity. The term became popular with the rise of Calvinism, a denomination under Protestant Christianity under the leadership of John Calvin. His theory is based on the premise that all human beings are sinful and cursed to eternal damnation. Are all then destined to burn in a Hot Ball of fury? Well, not everyone according to John Calvin. There are a select group of individuals, groups that God has chosen who called themselves the Elect. Only these Elect are saved from eternal damnation.  This meant no matter what you do, your destiny is fixed or ‘inevitable’.


How is Predestination in the Movie different from Calvin’s Predestination?


Predestination explained by Dr. Robinson in 1964 time loop also like Calvin’s Predestination is premised on ‘inevitability’. However, the most appropriate term that should’ve been used as the title of the film is Predestination Paradox. The term made widely popular through sci-fi- time traveling novelties talks about the inevitability of events. In order to prevent a certain event from ever happening one travel back in time to prevent that event only to discover that the time traveler is actually the cause of that event. Just like in this movie where Ethan Hawke traveled back in time to prevent a New York Bombing caused by the Fizzled Bomber only to find out that all along he himself is the Fizzled Bomber, a future dated Agent Doe.


Who is the frizzle bomber in the Movie ‘Predestination’?


The central character of the Movie Predestination is the Frizzled bomber. The Frizzle bomber is one of the most skilled recruits of a time-traveling agency called ‘Temporal Bureau’. The prime duty of that agency rested on that simple proverb: ‘Prevention is better than cure’. The agency, therefore, tries to prevent man-made catastrophe from ever happening in the first place so that lives can be saved. So they pull up their socks, travel back in time, do the job and Viola! Disaster averted.

Agent Doe Severely Burned As His Attempt To Disarm A Bomb Backfired (1970)

So Agent Doe travels back in time to complete his last assignment: recruit their priced asset and prevent the New York bombing. So he traveled back in time, ironically, to recruit himself. But Retirement doesn’t suit him. Every time he traveled back he has a slight tendency to make a little detour and in his latest rendezvous with time he discovered one very crucial piece of evidence that could lead him to the frizzle Bomber.  As he picked up that piece of evidence he went straight where it leads him and discovered to his own horror as he stood facing the Frizzle Bomber was none other than himself. Not only was he a progeny of himself, created by the union of Jane and John, he recruited himself, became agent Doe and eventually became the Frizzle Bomber. With every time travel, it eats a part of his sanity finally creating ‘psychotic’ Frizzle Bomber.


Predestination Review: Loopholes and Negative Criticisms


Apples and oranges:


There were lapses in the choice of character in the movie. The first being the stark difference in looks between John and Agent Doe where John resembled more of a young Leonardo. Although surgery was described as the cause of change in physical features we can really equate Apples and Oranges.


A Movie That Should’ve Never Existed?


The whole premise of the movie is based on the intimate relationship between John and Jane. Had Jane never met John there would’ve been no baby. And without the birth of the Predestined baby there would’ve been no Jane and without Jane no john and without John no agent Doe and without agent Doe no frizzled bomber and with no Frizzled Bomber no New York Attack. So if you want to prevent an attack on an entire city, why create him in the first place. The movie is all but a futile effort.


Exploring themes on Sexuality:


In this era where sexual rights are slowing making a wave in the form of LGBT (Lesbian Gays Bisexual and Transgender) a movie that depicted inter-sex as a disadvantage can be read as a misnomer for sexual rights. Not only was Jane’s unique medical sexual orientation the cause of so much pain and tragedy in her life it eventually leads to the creation of a deadly Bomber. Is this movie then a subtle critique of such sexual rights? Had Jane not been forced to undergo a sex change, he would’ve never been recruited into the Temporal Bureau and as the chain reaction shows eventually no frizzled Bomber. Hence, this movie is a retrograde when it comes to challenging sexual norms.


What is Predestination in the Bible? Is it the wrong choice of a movie title?


The movie title is basically a rip off from the Bible. The word appears in two places in the Bible:

i) The Book of Romans (chapter 8 verses 29 and 30) – ‘For those God Foreknew He also Predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son… And those He predestined He also called’.

ii) Ephesians (Chapter 1 verses 5 and 11)- ‘He Predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ… In Him, we were also chosen having been Predestined according to the Plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will’.

Predestination in the Bible is basically an emphasis on the Sovereignty of God and how everything works according to His plan. And that His chosen Predestined groups or a generation are merely instruments of carrying out that will. How He had chosen people, His people to carry out that will.

Now, if we go back to the conversation between Dr.Robinson and Agent Doe in 1964, the predestination referred to is actually the Predestination Paradox, the causal loop that is created around Agent Doe to prevent an impending New York attack and how Mr. Doe had been specially chosen to prevent that attack. So, would it be really wrong to say the Movie title is missing one Word? Would it?

As the movie is stuck in a causal loop so also is the review of the Predestination Movie. However, we can rest our case on one thing: inevitability. Human beings are mortals being, not omnipotent supernatural beings and some things are beyond our control. What is deemed to happen will happen and no amount of scientific invention (like the time machine) can do anything to prevent what is Willed for this humanity.

There we have it! Predestination Explained with all its loopholes and negative criticism, it’s obvious now that it’s a definite must-watch.

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