Dir. Stephen Campanelli
Scr. Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan
Starring: Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Stephen Campanelli, the longtime, Canadian-born camera operator for director Clint Eastwood has delivered a supremely entertaining South African-produced action thriller. Momentum, his directorial debut, displays first-rate coverage of the numerous action set-pieces and given the film's relatively low-budget, Campanelli puts the ham-fisted, tin-eyed herky-jerky approach to action by the likes of Sam Mendes and Christopher Nolan (amongst, sadly, far too many others), to humiliating shame.
He displays considerable respect and faith in the nicely choreographed ass-kicking and this results in some mighty thrilling fisticuffs, gunfights and carnage. He also displays a nice sense of humour (some of which comes from the competent, though by-rote screenplay by Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan).
Opening with a genuinely chilling bank heist sequence (no need to spoil the approach taken by the criminals for you), we're quickly introduced to the lithe, deadly former CIA assassin Alex Farraday (played by the stunning Ukrainian beauty Olga Kurylenko). A series of brutal murders and double-crosses take place and soon, she's on the run from the cunning, psychotic operative Mr. Washington (James Purefoy) on the orders of a corrupt American senator (Morgan Freeman).
The heist she's taken part in contains much more than stolen diamonds, but hidden secrets which could overthrow the evil senator's bid for Presidency.
That's really it on the plot front, but writers Marcus and Sullivan deliver a reasonably solid cat-and-mouse extended chase that's replete with plenty of action set pieces, deliciously delightful violence and plenty of opportunities to display the gorgeous visage and moves of Kurylenko (who is becoming quite the wonderful action star).
The real treat, aside from Campanelli's terrific helmsmanship, is the performance of James Purefoy and the smarmy, hilarious dialogue he gets to rattle off from beginning to end. He's a great villain and perfectly matched with Kurylenko. Their hero-villain chemistry and the characters themselves provide firm audience involvement.
Sadly, the performance of Morgan Freeman (he's clearly shot in isolation) is absolutely abominable. Granted, he has some of the film's worst dialogue, but he is obviously doing as little as possible for his paycheque that I didn't really care how much he humiliated himself as an actor, but that he drags the movie down to sub-grade-Z levels whenever he's onscreen. Casting him did not do the picture any favours at all.
Other than this, though, Momentum is a sturdy, compact action thriller that will offer fans exactly what they want, but executed far above what they usually get in similarly budgeted enterprises, as well as few blockbusters like Skyfall and The Dark Knight.
Of course, Purefoy and Kurylenko make for a handsome, hilarious scumbag and a mouth-watering, ravishing knockout. This is nothing to sneeze at.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars
Momentum is available on Blu-Ray/DVD via Anchor Bay Entertainment/Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada. Picture and sound are first-rate, though the sole extra, a behind-the-scenes featurette, leaves a bit to be desired.
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