In Volition, James (Adrian Glynn McMorran, The Revenant) has been struggling with clairvoyance ever since he was young.
At the age of seven, he was in a car accident with his mother that took her life. As an adult, James uses these visionary fragments in order to avoid paying his late rent to his impatient landlord, swipe cigarettes from unsuspecting strangers on the street, and get ahead in small time bets at the local bar.
While trying to scrounge the few hundred dollars he owes before he’s evicted, his path crosses with Angela (Magda Apanowicz, The Green Inferno) and his outlook on life suddenly changes.
James is pulled back in to the criminal life he’s tried to distance himself from by a residential crime lord named Ray (John Cassini, Seven). Ray intends to use James’ visionary attributes in order to make millions off of a bag of diamonds. James’ cut would be $100,000 and he has a vision of the hand-off going without a hitch, so it seems like easy money.
But his quick payday disintegrates when James sees himself dying in the not too distant future. With nowhere else to go, James turns to a scientist named Elliot (Bill Marchant, Chappie) who is the only man that helped him after his mother died.
Made by the Smith Brothers (Co-writer and director Tony Dean Smith and co-writer Ryan W. Smith), Volition comes off as a more polished low budget film. The cast is full of actors you’ve never heard of before, but may have seen in the background or in minuscule roles in big budget films.
Most of the acting is passable, but a bit stiff with Bill Marchant’s Elliot character being the most rigid of the bunch. Ray and cousin Sal are played by real life brothers John and Frank Cassini while Aleks Paunovic portrays Terry, the muscle who is way too eager for bloodshed.
Adrian Glynn McMorran carries the film and rightfully so since Volition is purely a story that revolves around James. The issue is that until time travel enters the picture Volition is on the verge of being incredibly boring.
The chemistry between McMorran and Magda Apanowicz is lacking and the story doesn’t have enough going on between James’ visions to keep the viewer intrigued. You get that James is just barely scraping by and Angela never really climbs out of that damsel in distress role that she’s shoehorned into.
The elements of time travel in Volition are the film’s biggest strength. Everything is a part of this gigantic time loop that really comes together as the film unfolds.
Time travel is achieved through a liquefied agent that is injected into the bloodstream, but the user has no control of where they’ll end up in time.
The 30-45 minute mark is where Volition starts to unveil how good it really is. Little things like bumping into somebody throwing up on the sidewalk and hearing a loud commotion in the back of a restaurant become intriguing story points as James barrels through time.
There are a lot of triumphs found within the sci-fi thriller Volition, but you have to swim through a lot of mediocrity in order to witness them. This isn’t necessarily meant as a jab towards the filmmaking procedure of Volition, but more of a trial and error assessment for the Smith Brothers.
The acting leaves something to be desired and the story is a bit rough at first, but is rather brilliant once it finds its rhythm. The Smith Brothers know their way around science fiction, but everyday dialogue leaves something to be desired.
Volition is fatally flawed both in its on-screen story and filmmaking, but it’s able to evolve into an impressive slice of sci-fi cinema. Take note of the Smith Brothers, as well. Volition has just enough moments of greatness to hint at a refreshing vision and something potentially unique from anything the South African born and Vancouver-transplanted-duo set their minds to.
Volition will be released on Apple TV, Prime Video, and other digital platforms on Friday, July 10.
- Time travel done right.
- Its interconnected story.
- Adrian Glynn McMorran
- Boring in its first half.
- Stiff acting from cast.
- Noticeably low budget at times.