PLOT: After a heist gone wrong, a formerly retired master thief (Olga Kurylenko) finds herself pursued by an army of goons when material she’s stolen is found to reveal embarrassing secrets about those active in the highest corridors of power.
REVIEW: DTV-actioners are really a dime-a-dozen these days, with very few good enough to distinguish them from the random titles that frequently pop-up in your VOD queue. Even worse are the ones that feature prominently billed A-listers (frequently Bruce Willis) with tiny, two-to-three scene parts that were clearly shot quickly in a cash-in, cash-out basis.
On those admittedly meager merits, MOMENTUM is a cut about most titles. While yes, it does have an A-lister contributing a cameo, the fact that Morgan Freeman is unbilled gives MOMENTUM a sense of honesty those other bottom-of-the-barrel titles don’t have. Having apparently contributed his cameo out of friendship for the director, Stephen Campanelli (Clint Eastwood’s long-time ace camera operator), the fact that Freeman’s not all-over the poster gives you the impression that MOMENTUM is willing to sell itself on its own merits.
As far as these kinds of movies go, MOMENTUM actually isn’t half-bad. While the premise of a “last job gone wrong” and “government baddies on the rampage” isn’t new at all, MOMENTUM actually lives up to its title in that it’s rarely dull and keeps moving at a relatively aggressive pace. The opening bank robbery, where futuristic looking robbers in face-obscuring masks break into a super-max bank, is actually well-shot and conceived. The reveal, that the toughest hombre of the bunch is actually the gorgeous, lithe Olga Kurylenko is hardly surprising, but as a character introduction it’s relatively fresh, showing that Campanelli at least has a sense of style.
While much of the dialogue is cringe-worthy, Kurylenko’s such an appealing presence that the occasional mangled line-reading (such as some tough-guy patter about wanting to get drunk following the heist) is easy to forgive. Kurylenko’s an interesting actress, in that she can go back-and-forth between A-list art-house movies directed by Terrence Malick and B-level actioners without seeming like she’s slumming in the latter.
Helping matters is James Purefoy as the scenery-chewing baddie. Often wasted, Purefoy is a dynamic villain, even if he’s a tad too easily outsmarted for such a diabolical power-player. Meanwhile, Freeman plays the high-tone politician calling the shots, and while his screen-time is limited, he can’t help but lend the film a certain something (it’s worth noting that Freeman doesn’t often contribute these kind of extended cameos to DTV movies – so his gesture to Campanelli is impressive).
While fun, and boasting solid production values for a low-budget actioner (it’s far better than a similar, South Africa shot DTV-er, KITE) MOMENTUM does lose some of the titular feature towards the end, and the ending sets up an unlikely sequel, which is frustrating as it makes it feel like the story has only been half-told. In the end, this is a good enough time waster, and a decent VOD rental for hardcore action fans. Kurylenko is always worth watching, and with a good sense of energy and fun throughout, MOMENTUM is a solid directorial debut for Campanelli, who could probably do a lot with a bigger budget.
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