momentumGiven the preposterous casting of Olga Kurylenko as a jewel thief and discredited CIA operative, the largely phoned-in performance of Morgan Freeman (not a comment on the quality of his acting – his sporadic appearances in the film are almost entirely limited to being one half of a phone conversation a continent away from the action), and the start-to-stop silliness of the premise, plot, and denouement, the surprising thing about the new thriller Momentum is that it’s not absolutely awful. In fact, it’s even somewhat entertaining and enjoyable and not entirely in the “OMG, this is so bad, it’s good” way.

How can a film destined to be terrible wind up as not too bad?

First of all, some credit must go to Ms. Kurylenko. Despite the off-the-scale implausibility of her masterminding bank robberies, enduring torture, and single-handedly stopping a terrorist plot that would make 9-11 look like a church picnic, Kurylenko as Alex Farraday is so impossibly wonderful to look at that you want her to be on screen and you want her to do well at whatever she is trying. Kurylenko is the visual equivalent of the singer whose voice is so good that you would pay to hear her sing the telephone book. The camera loves her in whatever situation she appears.

Opposite Olga we have an oily villain, chewing the scenery with relish. Cue James Purefoy, who as Mr. Washington, gives us the pure pleasure of good old fashioned movie nastiness. He’s a one-man axis of evil here and loving every minute of it. Purefoy also performs in a way that makes everyone around him better. Kurylenko, in her first lead role, certainly benefits from playing off of him in their scenes together.

Momentum is also director Stephen S. Campanelli’s maiden effort, and while he manages a passing grade, there’s substantial room for improvement. Campanelli keeps the pace as brisk as it needs to be when too much time spent on any element would cause the action to slow and the nonsensical nature of the enterprise to become more apparent. Other than a car chase sequence that goes on for too long at the onset, the director does not dwell unnecessarily in any one scene. The opening is particularly noteworthy, a bank heist featuring high-tech outfits and voice modifiers for the bad guys. It’s well shot and establishes a level of tension that serves the movie nicely.

The not-so-good news is that Campanelli, cinematographer Glen MacPherson, and editor Doobie White are less successful translating other action sequences to the screen, notably some hand-to-hand fighting that underwhelms the viewer.

Speaking of underwhelming, there’s Freeman’s appearance in the film. Morgan is dangerously close to falling into Nicholas Cage territory at this point in terms of accepting roles without discretion in search of a paycheck. Unless it’s back taxes or gambling debts, Freeman needs to learn how to say no. He’s diluting his own brand. Plus, who wants to look at him when we could get another eyeful of Olga?

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] Meet Mr. Karma writes, “Momentum is also director Stephen S. Campanelli’s maiden effort, and while he manages a passing grade, there’s substantial room for improvement. Campanelli keeps the pace as brisk as it needs to be when too much time spent on any element would cause the action to slow and the nonsensical nature of the enterprise to become more apparent.” […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s