Directed by Stephen Campanelli.
Starring Olga Kurylenko, James Purefoy, Morgan Freeman, Jenna Saras and Karl Thaning.
A diamond heist gone awry leads a highly-trained operative to go on the run, pursued by a smooth-talking, ruthless assassin attempting to protect an enormous conspiracy.
“Diamond heist gone awry” has been the jumping off point for dozens and dozens of thrillers over the years, covering everything from Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs to Noel Clarke’s Brit flick 22.214.171.124. Such a crime is the centrepiece of the violent opening to Stephen Campanelli’s directorial debut Momentum, which casts Quantum of Solace Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as an action woman on the run.
After her partners in crime are brutally murdered by assassin Mr Washington (James Purefoy), Alexis (Kurylenko) begins a fight for her life in which she must use every single one of her particular set of skills. In her possession alongside the diamonds is a flash drive that hides a dark secret involving a US senator (Morgan Freeman, proving he will appear in literally anything) and a conspiracy that goes, in the most consummate of crime thriller clichés, right to the top.
Right from the off, the issue with Momentum is that it has no idea where to pitch its tone. Awkward comedy moments jar horribly against the quite shocking violence that crops up with alarming regularity. James Purefoy’s character, in particular, segues between upper class quippery and distinctly grubby brutality at a quite outstanding rate. It’s a tonal disparity that very few films could juggle effectively and one that robs Momentum of much of its tension. There’s an uncomfortable mean streak to the film and a nastiness that it never earns.
There are, however, bright spots in the shape of the duelling central performances. Kurylenko and Purefoy have a spiky chemistry, which brings the film to life when they are given the opportunity to verbally spar. Given that chemistry, it’s a shame that the dialogue, from writing duo Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan, is often incredibly ripe and packed with cliché, with even Purefoy’s gravitas failing to elevate it. Gravitas, too, is completely absent from Morgan Freeman’s fleeting appearance, which is the very definition of phoning it in.
Campanelli does showcase himself as a very competent director of action sequences. The fight sequences in Momentum are potent and violent, with Kurylenko proving more than a match for the various thick-headed male lunks who are sent to take her down. Campanelli brings crunch to his action, but the script seems to lack that kind of sure-footed confidence, given that the villains pause every few minutes or so to state without any finesse or subtlety just how good our heroine is at her job.
By the time the incoherent plot reaches its conclusion and the credits roll just as the most interesting chapter of the story begins, Momentum marks itself out as just another tired thriller with nothing to its name but a string of over-egged torture sequences. It’s quite an ironic title, given that momentum is the one thing the film utterly lacks.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Tom Beasley – Follow me on Twitter for movies, wrestling and jokes about David Cameron.