Volition is an overly ambitious film that largely manages to meet its lofty goals despite a shaky foundation.
Overall, Volition feels like Director/co-writer Tony Dean Smith and co-writer/brother Ryan W. Smith are taking some inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Rian Johnson’s Looper.
James (Adrian Glynn McMorran, Arrow) has a unique gift that allows him to see glimpses into the future. The visions are erratic and very random, which doesn’t make them the most useful abilities.
Still, it’s clear James isn’t making the most of his talents and is barely making rent for his shabby apartment above an auto repair shop. James’ luck changes after a random encounter with Angela (Magda Apanowicz, The Green Inferno), a beautiful passerby he saves from being robbed or raped in broad daylight.
James seems sorta skeevy and it’s hard to say exactly why Angela is drawn to him. Maybe you could overlook that, but the Smiths cant explain why she would ask to take a shower in a complete stranger’s apartment.
Volition offers some fun cinema puzzle moments, but it would have been so much better if the James/Angela dynamic — a key component of the film — was handled better.
This makes it tough to buy Angela sticking around when things start going crazy for James. Two goons are gunning for the $10 million in diamonds his (ex?) mob boss Ray (John Cassini) asked him to analyze. James hasn’t figured out their path, but knows he’ll end up dead.
When guys start shooting at the guy she just met, this would be a clue for Angela to just leave. And she would if she wasn’t so vital to the story.
It’s a rocky starting point, but once that’s settled, Volition becomes pretty fun as it plays with the origins of James’ abilities beyond the standard time stream. To say more would ruin the clever setup, which pays off a lot of the seemingly disjointed moments from earlier.
To the Smith Brothers’ credit, these disjointed moments don’t come off like they’re hastily thrown in to make sense in hindsight. It becomes more of a puzzle and the pieces all eventually fit. Again, the one weak element is Angela’s role.
McMorran does a nice job making James a slacker skirting through life while Apanowicz does her best with a role that doesn’t allow her character to have much depth or personal agenda.
Tony Dean Smith handles the transitions well where there’s a clear distinction of what’s happening at certain moments. That becomes key the further the film progresses. I’m not sure if the film would have been improved significantly from a visual standpoint if it was a big budget release.
With stronger incentive for Angela to stay involved, Volition would be one of my top smaller budget films of the year. It’s still entertaining though and in a year of limited quality options you don’t have to be forced to give this a watch.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: Giant Pictures