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MOMENTUM (review)

Review by Dean Galanis

Produced by Donald A. Barton, Anton Ernst

Written by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan
Directed by Stephen Campanelli
Starring Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, 
Sabine Palfi, Karl Thaning, Grant Roberts, 
Daniel Fox, Dylan Edy and Morgan Freeman

The lovely Olga Kurlyenko (Quantum of Solace) stars as a bad-ass thief pulled back in by her former partner for one last gig – to steal diamonds from a high-security bank.

Things don’t go as planned and soon she is on the run from not only the police, but a crack assassin and his band of killers, who are looking for something else Olga and the gang stole that is far more valuable than the gems.

As you’ve no doubt guessed from the summary, this is hardly a trailblazer story-wise, nor does it intend to be.

After a slightly klutzy heist opening that veers from creepily effective (the thieves full body suits act as both armor and disguise and can be somewhat unsettling) to unintentionally funny (the actors at times appear a bit clunky in these suits and the effect is sometimes giggle-worthy) to incomprehensible (the voice-altering masks give Bane a run for his money), the film settles into a being a surprisingly entertaining B-movie.

Quite violent but juuuust skirting the edge of ugliness, Momentum boasts a gorgeous, believable lead and a truly fun, deliciously hammy turn by James Purefoy (hired due to his scene-stealing performance on the TV series The Following) who gives his hit-or-miss one-liners just the right spin and smirk.  He really seems to be having a ball here, and it’s infectious.

The director, Stephen Campanelli, is a longtime cameraman for Clint Eastwood, which likely explains the presence of Morgan Freeman in a small role as a crooked politician.  He brings his usual aplomb here playing a complete asshole.

The film actually works hard to be suspenseful and usually succeeds, something very few VOD action thrillers do. As I’ve said, the film doesn’t break the mold, it just sets out to tell a solid, compact story with some good action, above average acting and directing and some decent writing.  The final showdown has a very satisfying denouement that is carefully – and wittily – set up throughout the film, leading to a giggle-inducing punchline.

The writing is also very knowing regarding the film’s limitations. Purefoy is prone to speech-making, to the point where at one moment it got to be a bit much.  Just as Purefoy pauses, Kurylenko spits out, “You sure love to talk!” Likewise, while Kurylenko is solid in the film, she’s as stonefaced as Charles Bronson most of the time. I was mentally taking note of this, when Purefoy delivers the line, “Oh, you like chess? I assumed with that face, poker was your game.”

Noel Coward it ain’t, but Momentum does do what the vast majority of action films, whatever the budget, do not: delivers on its promise to entertain, and does so without turning the viewers’ brains to mush.

Momentum is now playing in theaters & VOD and is available on iTunes

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