Predestination Movie Explained (Simply With A Timeline Diagram)

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Hi, this is Barry and welcome to my site. I guarantee you, Predestination 2014 movie’s plot is as crazy as time travel consequences ever get! The cast of Predestination includes Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke in the lead roles who’ve really brought the improbable characters to life. Here is the film detailed plot analysis and ending of the 2014 movie Predestination explained. Predestination Paradox Explained – A predestination paradox occurs when a time traveler is caught in a loop of events that “predestines” or “predates” him or her to travel back in time. The paradox suggests that those people who travel back in time would have no way of changing a situation. This is what the Predestination movie is about. Here’s the detailed plot analysis and the ending of the movie Predestination explained; spoilers ahead.

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Predestination: Explained Simply, In Short

Predestination is about an impossible situation created by time travel—the impossible bootstrap paradox. Consider two friends Bonnie and Clyde. Clyde gives Bonny a pen on Sept 1st and tells her to give it to him on Sept 6th. She does. On the 7th, Clyde travels back in time to the 1st. Clyde gives Bonny a pen on Sept 1st and tells her to give it to him on Sept 6th. This is a Predestined loop. Notice how the pen exists only between the dates of Sept 1st to Sept 7th, not before, not after. The pen was bootstrapped without going through a manufacturing process.

Now if you apply the same concept to the film, the central person is bootstrapped within a predestined time-travel loop out of thin air. This person, as a baby girl named Jane, is mysteriously found at the doorstep of an orphanage. Jane lives her early life as a woman unknowing that she has both male and female sex organs. Jane gives birth to a baby which causes damage to her female organs and goes through a sex change procedure to become John. Jane’s baby is stolen. Years later, John travels back in time and ends up having sex with Jane, causing the pregnancy in the first place. John eventually becomes the Barkeep because of a fire accident needing a face change. The Barkeep travels back in time and steals Jane’s baby and go back further in time and leaves the baby at the orphanage, which makes Jane her own mother and her own father. The Barkeep finds and kills the Fizzle Bomber. He continues to time travel, loses his mind, becomes the Fizzle Bomber and is eventually shot by his younger self, the Barkeep.

“How is all this possible??”, you ask? Well, that’s the point of the movie. It presents an impossible situation made possible only because of time travel. Which further goes to question the very possibility of time-travel if it’s going to create such a mess.

Predestination Timeline Diagram

Here is a timeline diagram describing the life of Jane -> John -> Barkeep:

Predestination Movie Timeline Diagram

Predestination Movie: Plot Explanation (Detailed)

The Predestination movie is simply explained by giving the spoiler out straight away. We see 4 main characters in this movie – Jane, John, the Barkeep, and the Fizzle bomber. They are all the same person from different times. Yep, the same person.

Bomb Defusal Scene

The movie starts off with a man in a coat and hat trying to defuse a bomb. He gets distracted by a gunshot and before the bomb can be safely defused, it blows up burning the face of the man in the coat and hat. Another person walks up to burnt man and helps him reach out to a violin case. The burnt man uses the violin box and disappears. There are three people in this scene. The man trying to defuse the bomb, this is John. The man who fires at John, this is the Fizzle bomber and the man who helps John with the violin case, this is the Barkeep. The point to be noted here is that they are all the same person from 3 different times. Don’t give it too much thought right now. Read on further.

predestination bomb defusal

Face Change for the Temporal Agent

Burnt face man, John, goes back to a future time – 1992, and gets his face grafted. Since his face is completely destroyed, they give him a new face. This is the face that we will refer to as Barkeep. John/Barkeep has been trying to hunt down a chain bomber that they call the Fizzle bomber. He has been trying to stop a major New York event in 1975 which kills over 10,000 people, but has been unsuccessful so far. He is a temporal agent of a mysterious Temporal Bureau who have the ability to travel through time.

Predestination: Barkeep, John and Jane

Barkeep has one final mission he has to embark on now. For which he travels back to 1970 and plays the role of a barkeep. His younger self, John from 1970, arrives at the bar. They start talking. John reveals that he is the author – Unmarried Mother. John starts telling the story of his life where he was born a girl and was called Jane. Jane was a baby abandoned at an orphanage in 1945. Jane never ends up getting adopted and she eventually tries to join the Space Corps program headed by one Mr. Robertson. Jane gets rejected from the program because something in her physiology is “odd”. But they don’t tell her that when they disqualify her. They simply pin the disqualification on the fight Jane has with another girl in the Corp. This detail comes as a flashback later on in the movie.

Stranger, Jane and her Baby

Jane gives up and attends night school where she bumps into a stranger. She falls in love with him, but the stranger disappears on Jane one day, leaving her waiting on a bench. We will get back to who this stranger is in a bit. Jane realizes that she is pregnant. She delivers a baby successfully but the doctor tells her that Jane has an “odd” physiology – she has fully formed male and female organs. Complications in delivery result in the doctors only being able to save the male organs. Jane will need to change to a man as a result. Soon after this, her baby gets stolen. Jane becomes John over time.

After that John says this, “Strange. Every time I looked at my new appearance I was reminded of that bastard that ruined my life. That’s some messed up irony I guess. The funny thing was the nurses, they thought I was quite handsome. I guess I also knew what women wanted to hear.” From this we understand that John’s mind was questioning his resemblance to the stranger, but he wrote it off thinking his mind was playing tricks on him and moved on with his life and new identity.

John falls in love with his former self, Jane

John completes telling this story to the Barkeep. However, the Barkeep knows all of this. It is his own life’s story after all. He doesn’t reveal that yet. Barkeep tells John that he knows the location of the “stranger” who ruined Jane’s life. Barkeep promises that he will give John the opportunity of revenge, of killing that stranger free of any consequences. John and Barkeep use the violin box to travel back in time to the point where Jane was attending night school. John equips himself with a gun and goes looking for the stranger but bumps into Jane. John soon realizes that he is that “stranger”. He falls in love with Jane and has sex with her.

Yes, folks, the male self goes back in time when he was female and has sex with him/herself. Bizarre, we now know another one of those things that is apparently possible in this universe of the film. Talk about self-sufficient! Hang on, there is more to come.

Predestination: Bomb Difusal Scene Again

While all of this is happening, Barkeep quietly slips out and goes forward to 1970 – to the event of the bomb defusal, the first scene of the movie. Barkeep arrives to notice the Fizzle bomber placing the bomb; they get into a gunfight, then into a fist fight. Barkeep gets his ass handed to him and faints. He wakes up just in time to see John’s face getting burnt trying to defuse the bomb. Barkeep helps John with the violin box. The Fizzle bomber escapes.

Barkeep steals the Baby

Barkeep heads to the time when Jane has given birth. Mr. Robertson joins him there. It is shown that he too has a little violin box of his own and can travel through time, he seems to head the Temporal Bureau. Barkeep steals Jane’s baby and travels back to 1945 with the baby. He abandons the baby at the orphanage.

The Baby is Jane!

Yep, not only does the male from a future time has sex with his past girl self, the baby born as a result is the origin of him/herself too. Messed up right? That is truly self-sufficient indeed! This also explains why the baby would grow with both sex organs. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s your predestination and bootstrap paradox right there. Jane/John is a self-created entity because the “he” from a future time has sex with the “she” from a past time.

Barkeep reveals his identity to John

Once Barkeep leaves the baby, he returns to the time John and Jane are still together. He signals for John, John leaves Jane waiting on the bench. Barkeep tells John that they need to leave this time and travel forward. At this point Barkeep tells John that he too is John from a future time with a different face – however, in the movie, this portion is disclosed only in the end. Barkeep and John travel forward to 1985. Barkeep meets Mr. Robertson and leaves John to recover there and travels back to 1975 for retirement. By now Barkeep has made an audio recording for John to hear and follow. Barkeep heads off to 1975 (just before the New York event date).

predestination John

John prepares to become a Temporal Agent

John recovers from the shock of the truth and uses the tape left to him by Barkeep to prep to become a temporal agent. Seven years later, in 1992, John jumps back to 1970 wearing a coat and a hat to defuse a bomb set by the Fizzle bomber. John gets into a gunfight with the Fizzle bomber and ends up getting distracted. The bomb goes off burning John’s face.

There you have it. That explains why in the first scene of the movie you have 3 people – John, Barkeep and Fizzle bomber who are the same person from 3 different times.

Predestination Ending Explained

Predestination Fizzle Bomber Explained

Barkeep reaches 1975 to retire after leaving John in 1985, he decommissions his time device, but it shows an error in decommissioning. He checks the file to notice that Mr. Robertson has left him clues to get to the Fizzle bomber who is just about to commit the New York event of 1975. He heads to the Laundromat where the Fizzle bomber is. When Barkeep reaches the Laundromat, he encounters the fizzle bomber. The Fizzle bomber is the Barkeep from a future time. Barkeep has been basically chasing his own self from a future time. The time leaps have caused Barkeep to grow maniacal and turn into the Fizzle bomber. In the focus of stopping terror attacks, he’s been killing innocents. Barkeep kills the Fizzle bomber. However, Barkeep does not report the time device which he’s unable to decommission. That is the end of the movie.

Predestination: Does The Barkeep Become The Fizzle Bomber?

Barkeep does not report the time device which he’s unable to decommission. This indicates that he continues to use the device; time jumps are indicated to have an effect on the mind. Let’s not forget about the fact that every other event in this story is predestined to happen. This should be no exception to the rule. It only makes sense that Barkeep grows old to become the insane Fizzle bomber.

Has The New York Incident Been Stopped?

Well looks like it has but then again, predestination right? This event has already happened. Barkeep’s killing the Fizzle Bomber doesn’t necessarily mean that the bombing has been stopped. An older Fizzle bomber may have been killed by Barkeep. A younger Fizzle Bomber who is not as lost could be responsible for the New York event. After all, the Fizzle Bomber also has the ability to travel through time as he pleases. We would like to stick to the theory that the New York event happens.

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