“They say when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes,” intones the voice-over of protagonist James (Adrian Glynn McMorran) at the start of Tony Dean Smith’s Volition. For James, life isn’t that simple, principally because he can occasionally take a peek of the future. Suffice it to say, James is simultaneously gifted and cursed.
James is clairvoyant, which scrambles the narrative and how the pieces come together, if they ever do. Volition is a serpentine sci-fi thriller that wrestles with the perennial conceptions of free will and destiny. As seen in Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, the discourse on free will isn’t a new conundrum in any way. But Volition examines it in an intoxicatingly brisk and restless fashion that precisely fits all its puzzle pieces together.
The title alone will have you believe James’s fate is not yet written, as volition is a term that denotes decision-making and free will. When death knocks on our front door, we will be whisked away from this life. We will never know when, but perhaps not knowing when we die is better than knowing exactly when, as the fear of our predetermined death would wreak havoc in our insides, and we would stubbornly try to avert it. But if fate dictated our death, we wouldn’t be able to avert it. For James, he sees himself getting shot in the not-so-distant future. He knows death is approaching, and there’s a part of him that fears it and wants to change the outcome. Through his attempts to overcome death, a quintessential question lingers in the back of the viewer’s mind: is his future already sealed by fate?
“…James is tasked to transport a bag of blood diamonds worth millions in exchange for much-needed rent money.”
James’s affliction of clairvoyance can be traced back to childhood, where he knew his mother was going to die two days before the scarring incident. In present-day, to remember every future vision, James draws inextricable diagrams on the wall of his poky apartment. Soon enough, James has a future vision of a woman in distress a few feet away, and he saves the woman from a couple of virulent men. After being crowned a savior, James has another vision, which shows him that he’ll have a real relationship with Angela (a personable Magda Apanowicz), the woman he saved.
Short on cash, James takes money from one of the violent men’s wallet, and charms Angela with his unbridled charisma. But, the romance of Angela and James is cut short when gangster Ray (a versatile John Cassini) summons James for a potential job. James is tasked to transport a bag of blood diamonds worth millions in exchange for much-needed rent money.
The clairvoyant’s trek is by no means a bloodless journey as Ray’s associates Terry (Aleks Paunovic) and Sal (Frank Cassini) double-cross their boss and try to steal the diamonds for themselves, while James sees his murder. In a moment of haste and apprehension, James takes Angela with him as they evade the scheming goons. They end up at the home of James’s foster father, Elliot (a creepily composed Bill Marchant), where everything comes full circle, though neither James nor the audience knows that yet.
"…a serpentine sci-fi thriller that wrestles with the perennial conceptions of free will..."