To save the future he must reshape the past.
The film begins with a temporal agent attempting to apprehend an infamous terrorist known as the 'Fizzle Bomber', who planted a bomb in a building attempting to kill hundreds of people. The agent succeeds in containing the bomb but is severely injured when his face is partially exposed to the resulting explosion. The Fizzle Bomber manages to escape and the temporal agent returns to his timeline (in the future) using a coordinate transformer field kit (a time machine) with the help of an unknown person. Returning to the future, in 1992, the agent awakens to find that he has undergone facial surgery to save his life. Doctors grafted on new skin and reconstructed the agent's face and throat as they were badly damaged. It is revealed during this time that the agent works for a mysterious organization, known as the Temporal Bureau, that sends temporal agents through time to prevent major crimes that would cost the lives of thousands of people and that the Fizzle Bomber is the only criminal to elude them thus far; the Fizzle Bomber is also responsible for killing 11,000 people in New York in 1975.
Once the agent is healed he is ordered to embark on a final mission before he is decommissioned from the agency. The agent accepts the mission and uses his coordinate transformer field kit (which is disguised as a violin case) to travel back in time to the 1978 and works as a bartender in New York. The bartender seemingly awaits for the arrival of a particular customer who he starts chatting with. This customer, a man, is referred to as the 'Unmarried Mother' since he writes confession magazines, many of them presumably from the point of view of an unmarried mother. The Unmarried Mother and bartender start talking and the Unmarried Mother wagers a bottle of liquor if his story is enough to shock or surprise the bartender. The bartender agrees and the Unmarried Mother tells the bartender of his past.
The Unmarried Mother explains that he was originally a girl and was taken into an orphanage on September 13, 1945, when she was left at the orphanage doorstep. She was named 'Jane' by one of the workers at the orphanage. The Unmarried Mother recounts events in his life when he was a girl, saying that he envied children with parents and felt he was different somehow. He also states that he was quite gifted and was very good in all scientific fields and was physically strong, being able to fight boys. The Unmarried Mother tells the bartender that she wanted to join the space corps to help and service astronauts in space as he wanted to go to outer space herself and enlisted. Jane excelled in all the tests set for her by the space corps, but she was disqualified during the selection process as doctors found a medical anomaly during her physical, revealing that Jane had an inter-sex condition were he had two sets of sex organs: male and female. The doctors did not tell Jane this, however, and she tries to move on with her life. Jane eventually goes to night classes in Cleveland to work on her demeanor and charm, but accidentally stumbles into a stranger on her way home on April 3, 1963. The two begin talking and soon start a relationship together. The Unmarried Mother tells the bartender that the two fell in love and that she believed she had met the only person who she truly cared about, but eventually the stranger left Jane and never came back. Emotionally distraught, Jane is approached by Mr. Robertson, thought to be one of the recruiting officers at the space corps, who tells Jane that he actually works for a different organization that could use someone with her intelligence and physical abilities and offers her a chance to join. Jane was about to accept his proposition, but fell pregnant from when she was with the stranger. Jane eventually gives birth to a baby girl, but a C-section was required to successfully remove the baby. One of the doctors that performed the operation then tells Jane that during the operation they had to surgically remove her uterus and ovaries, but they had found male sex organs intact and surgically reconstructed Jane into a man. Jane's child is kidnapped by an unknown man. Jane is completely reconstructed into a man with further operations. The Unmarried Mother explains that as life went on, he became a writer and started writing confession stories under the pen name 'The Unmarried Mother'.
The Unmarried Mother concludes the story and asks if he has earned the bottle of liquor. The bartender almost gives him the bottle, but quickly reveals that he knows the Unmarried Mother's new male name which is 'John' and other details in John/Jane's life. John eventually follows the bartender into a secure basement underneath the bar. The bartender tells John that he actually works for Mr. Robertson and the organization Mr. Robertson was referring to was the Temporal Bureau. The bartender then offers John a chance to stop the Fizzle Bomber by traveling back in time to 1963 to kill him. John accepts and they travel back in time, using the time machine, to stop the Fizzle Bomber. The bartender and John end up at April 3, 1963, in Cleveland, Ohio, and the bartender arms John with a gun to confront the bomber, and if John successfully stops him he will be inducted into the Temporal Bureau to give him meaning, something that he's always wanted. John is directed to Cleveland College, but when he gets there he accidentally meets Jane, his younger female self, while the bartender/temporal agent looks on from a distance and eventually uses his time machine to travel into the future. The agent ends up in the exact same building in New York in the beginning of the film, only he arrives a few minutes earlier than his former self to stop the Fizzle Bomber. He spots the Fizzle Bomber and fights him, but is incapacitated in the ensuing fight. He then wakes to the sound of an explosion and gunfire and realizes that his former self (from the beginning of the movie) has been injured and he wasn't able to stop the bomber. He is revealed to be the man who helps his former self reach his time machine in order to get back to the Temporal Bureau in 1985.
The temporal agent uses his time machine to travel back to March 1964 where he meets with Robertson. The agent managed to grab some evidence from the bomb used by the Fizzle Bomber and hands it over to Robertson. It is shown that Robertson and the agent are actually having their conversation in the hospital ward where Jane's child is born. The temporal agent/bartender then kidnaps the child and takes the baby girl back in time to the same orphanage that Jane grew up in, in 1945. The temporal agent soon returns to 1963 to retrieve John and reveals to him his mission and why he set John and Jane together. The temporal agent explains that he, John, Jane and the child are all the same person that exist through a predestined time paradox. He tells John that he needed John to meet with Jane in order for her to become pregnant and give birth to a child that would eventually grow up to be them and that he deceived John as he had no intention of getting him to kill the Fizzle Bomber. If the temporal agent had not kidnapped the child and transport her back to 1945 or did not set up John and Jane, all of them would not exist. John states that he doesn't want to leave Jane, but the temporal agent insists it has to be.
The temporal agent takes the Unmarried Mother John to the Temporal Bureau in 1985, to ensure his own existence so that he could prevent the crimes to come, and is decommissioned. Robertson also gives the temporal agent a file containing new leads recovered from the evidence he gave Robertson. The temporal agent/bartender/future John, then returns to his own timeline to live out a normal life as best he can in 1975 New York. He then deactivates his time machine, but it encounters an error and does not deactivate properly. The agent/future John soon deduces where to find the bomber using the leads given to him by Robertson. The agent eventually finds the bomber in a laundromat store. To the agent's shock he sees that the Fizzle Bomber is actually him in the future. The Fizzle bomber states that he saved more lives than he has taken as a result of his actions and that Robertson is setting them up. The Fizzle Bomber, seemingly insane, says that if the agent kills him the agent will become him as it is a repetitive cycle, but if the agent loves him again when he was Jane and John, then they can break the cycle. Disgusted with his future self, the agent decides to kill the Fizzle Bomber.
The movie ends with the agent overlooking the time machine stating that he knows for sure that Jane, John and himself were the best things that have happened to him in his life and that he misses his past selves dreadfully.
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Starring: Sarah Snook (The Unmarried Mother), Ethan Hawke (The Bartender), Noah Taylor (Mr. Robertson), Elise Jansen (Nurse), Freya Stafford (Alice), Cate Wolswinkel (Beth Fetherage)
Screenplay: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig, Robert A. Heinlein
Score: 75 %