Some movies open with such promise, such fun and amusement that you are instantly intrigued. Unfortunately, sometimes these great opening sequences are not followed by anything remotely as enjoyable. Such is the case with Stephen S. Campanelli’s “Momentum” (2015).
Starring Olga Kurylenko and James Purefoy, “Momentum” begins with a brief voiceover by Morgan Freeman and then quickly moves onto a bank robbery. The thieves are wearing high-tech black outfits and each one is only distinguishable from the other by some colored lights. Their voices are being altered as well, so no one at the bank can get a handle on who they are. It is something of an ingenious setup.
What are they stealing? Why? Who are these robbers? Why does Morgan Freeman’s character want to engineer a war and how is any robbery here going to make that happen? “Momentum” instantly forces viewers into these questions and while we do get answers, they prove none too satisfying.
One of the robbers, Alex Farraday, is played by Kurylenko. Following the heist, some betrayal, and a little confusion Farraday finds herself being chased by Mr. Washington (James Purefoy) who, in turn, works for Morgan Freeman’s Senator and needs one of the items stolen from the bank.
None of this matters all that much, and it doesn’t matter because the script doesn’t care all that much. The movie is all about momentum, and not in the “Speed” slow down and the bus will explode manner. No, it’s all about moving from one action sequence to the next to the next so that the audience doesn’t give up on the movie and its foolishness.
Yes, essentially the film is comprised of one action sequence after another with the requisite twists thrown in just to keep things chugging along. None of these sequences, however, are remotely as good as the robbery that starts the film off. Some of them are enjoyable, and some of the escapes Farraday makes as she tries to work out what exactly she is going to do are exciting, but “Momentum” never recaptures its opening glory.
One of the other problems is that we know so little about what’s going on and why. The script opts to offer the tale in bits and pieces, giving little to no thought to most characters’ motivations. When we learn about who Farraday is and where she comes from, it may sound very cool but it doesn’t really feel like it gels with everything we’ve seen. It feels like it’s there simply because they needed some sort of story for Farraday.
For her part, Kurylenko is enjoyable in the action sequences, handily kicking the butt of one bad guy after the next… except when there are too many and she has to retreat and regroup. Purefoy is over the top as a bad guy, but as he doesn’t really have much of anything else going on, perhaps over the top was all that was left to him.
Do not even ask about Freeman and what he’s doing there, because he’s not really there at all. He appears every once in a while, says something about political machinations and then goes away.
I hate saying it, but there’s just not enough there there with “Momentum.”” It is a bunch of mediocre action sequences shown one after another with some sort of overriding political thing going on that feels entirely tacked on, a late edition to the story and not one that helps the weak plot.
But, man, it really felt like it could have been a surprising find with that opening bank robbery. It had such potential to be just different enough, just exciting enough, just special enough to succeed. It does not and it is not.
“Momentum” opens in theaters and on demand today, October 16th.
photo credit: Starz Digital