The journey becomes convoluted when James utilizes time-travel to preserve his life and the people around him. Woefully, this isn’t elementary time-bending hopscotch, and his condition slowly corrodes as the realities between past and present become too physically and mentally strenuous to handle.
Supported by a pulsating score composed by Matthew Rogers, the Smith Brothers’ heady script, and Byron Kopman’s superb cinematography (which nicely captures James through trembling close-ups), Volition is a slick mind-bending thriller that never feels miscalculated. It doesn’t, however, offer up a worthwhile relationship between James and Angela. Regrettably, Angela comes to believe James far too easily, and there isn’t that much chemistry between them. That being said, Angela is narratively important, and Magda Apanowicz gives a rounded performance as Angela.
Adrian Glynn McMorran delivers an engaging lead performance as the hopeless criminal-turned-romantic. When we first meet James, he’s insolent and reckless. He also carefully considers his dreadful fate but neglects to consider how Angela will be affected. After the climax devastatingly plays out, James becomes concerned for the people around him impacted by his verboten antics. As Volition travels along a deliberately tangled tightrope, the unwavering determination of the lead is laudable, if somewhat imprudent, and self-regarding.
“…a structurally and morally intricate script that presents a mystery worth exploring…”
Despite the mystic gift he wields, James is not all-knowing. He knows he dies soon, but he doesn’t know all the details prompting his tragic demise. There are purposeful voids between each vivid glance into the future. Not only does that work to build suspense, but the intrigue also prospers on the mystery behind his death. James will be shot, but why and how? Is it intentional, accidental, or instinctive?
Screenwriters Tony and Ryan Smith wrote a structurally and morally intricate script that presents a mystery worth exploring and contemplating long after the credits roll. The film is strictly contained, profoundly feverish, and gratifyingly paradoxical all at once.
Tony Dean Smith’s Volition pushes the viewer to reflect on their existence deeply. Are our lives planned out by some unseen, omnipotent force, or are we really given independence and free will? Unfortunately, unlike James, we will never know. In the meantime, we can try to draw conclusions through sheer belief or spiritual guidance. Either way, our future, and existence don’t come with instructions or clues. And maybe that’s for the best.
"…a serpentine sci-fi thriller that wrestles with the perennial conceptions of free will..."