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VOD Review: Volition

July 10, 2020

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

James Odin (Adrian Glynn McMorran), a man with the ability to see glimpses of the future, ends up embroiled in a diamond smuggling ring while trying to stay one step ahead of the visions that he keeps having of his own own murder, in the ambitious indie sci-fi thriller Volition.

James mainly uses his unique gift, which has plagued him since childhood, for petty crime and to bet on sporting events, barely scraping by as it is. But when he’s hired to hand off rare diamonds in exchange for cash, James ends up on the run. Guided by his shadowy, clairvoyant visions, James tries desperately to not only avoid his own death, but also save Angela (Magda Apanowicz), a woman that he meets who has appeared in his visions.

Directed by Tony Dean Smith, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film with his brother Ryan W. Smith, Volition branches out from its fairly basic and clichéd crime thriller plot to explore some pretty big themes. The screenplay uses its main character’s affliction to introduce high concept ideas about time travel paradoxes, and whether events are fated to happen or if we have some free-will over them.

The twisting and turning plot brings in some clever narrative beats as different threads keep coming back in new ways and events are revisited from fresh vantage points, which sets the stage for the film’s multilevel climax. Some thought has clearly gone into the mechanics of the plot to make it all work, and in this regard the up-and-coming filmmaking brothers, who were born in South Africa and raised in Vancouver, do show promise.

The mind-bending sci-fi aspect of Volition is well done, but the film is still plagued with some narrative and character development problems. For example, when we first meet Angela in the film, she is in the midst of being assaulted in an alleyway, and James steps in to intervene, positioning him as a white knight. The film uses this assault merely as a plot point to bring the two together, and then moves on from it pretty quickly. Angela doesn’t even appear to suffer much trauma from the assault throughout the rest of the film. It’s a choice that feels somewhat exploitative and didn’t quite sit right with me.

The execution is sometimes rocky, and the dialogue is cheesy at times, but Volition still has enough cool ideas to make it mildly worth a look. After a somewhat shaky start, the film actually gets better as it goes along, and does build up tension as more pieces of the puzzle are revealed. Aided by some decent special effects, Volition is a flawed but interesting effort, and it becomes something that, shortcomings aside, serves as a solid calling card for the Smith brothers.

Volition is being released today on a variety of digital and VOD platforms. It’s distributed in Canada by levelFILM.

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