Monday, July 06, 2020

Volition: Deja Vu, but Different

The issue of free will versus predestination is usually the realm of philosophers and theologians, but it holds pressing real-world implications for a low life with the ability to foresee the future. He never seems to have the power to change anything, so he has largely given up on life. However, things suddenly start to change, but not necessarily for the better, when he gets involved with a diamond caper in Tony Dean Smith’s Volition, which releases on VOD platforms this Friday.

James lives in a perpetual state of déjà vu. He can foresee bits and pieces, but he is constantly trying to assemble the full picture. He mostly lives off petty scams, but he accepts an offer from a small-time gangster hip to his talents to fence a consignment of blood diamonds. However, two henchmen (one being the working-class godfather’s brother-in-law), try to make a play for the stones, leaving James holding the bag. That was the idea, but nothing goes exactly as planned.

Volition starts out feeling like it comes out of a Twilight Zone bag, but its big, landscape-altering game-changer places it firmly in science fiction territory. It would probably be telling to reveal just what is truly afoot, but Smith and co-screenwriter-co-producer-brother Ryan W. Smith do it as well as the best films in the subgenre.

Adrian Glynn McMorran plays James as an unusually dissolute and grungy sf protagonist. He is a hard character to love, but the audience comes to sympathize with him, as we come to learn his full back-story. McMorran also has decent chemistry with Magda Apanowicz, portraying the woman he gets involved with at really the worst time possible. However, arguably the most intriguing and humanly conflicted performance is that of Bill Marchant, as Elliot, the foster-father who knows James’ secrets better than he does.

It looks like there are a number of online reviews and previews let the cat out of the bag regarding James’ true dealio, which is a shame, because it always better to discover revelations as they unfold within the narrative. Regardless, this is a clever sf yarn that requires no substantial special effects, but it is cut together seamlessly. As a result, Volition is a tricky sort of film to review, but the Smith Brothers pull off several maneuvers with a high degree of difficulty. All and all, it is rather impressive low-budget filmmaking. Recommended with enthusiasm for science fiction fans, Volition releases this Friday (7/10) on Apple TV, Prime Video, and other digital platforms.