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Volition Review

July 15, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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Volition Review  

Volition Review

Adrian Glynn McMorran– James
Magda Apanowicz– Angela
John Cassini– Ray
Frank Cassini– Sal
Aleks Paunovic– Terry
Bill Marchant– Elliot

Directed by Tony Dean Smith
Screenplay by Tony Dean Smith and Ryan W. Smith

Distributed by Giant Pictures

Not Rated
Runtime– 91 minutes

Watch it here. Also available via Apple TV and other digital platforms.


Volition, directed and co-written by Tony Dean Smith, is a thoroughly engaging, weird as hell low budget sci-fi flick about a down on his luck guy who is, for the lack of a better word, psychic. The psychic guy, James (Adrian Glynn McMorran), seems to possess the ability to see events in the future before they happen. It’s an ability that James has been able to use to his advantage in certain circumstances, but it’s not like he’s been able to use that ability to become rich and famous. Instead, James is chronically late with his rent, he doesn’t seem to have much in the way of a steady job (not that he necessarily wants one anyway. He likes to gamble), he smokes like a chimney, and he’s fairly miserable most of the time. One day, while intervening in a street crime and rescuing a woman named Angela (Magda Apanowicz), James is accosted by two low rent criminals he’s friendly with, Sal and Terry (Frank Cassini and Aleks Paunovic). Sal and Terry work for Ray (John Cassini), a sort of mob boss that sells drapes and whatnot as a day job, and Ray wants James to help him out with a specific job that Ray believes James can do and do well (Ray knows about James’ clairvoyance). It’s an easy job and, if it works out, is easy money for James. That is, of course, if it works out.

So what does Ray want James to do? Ray wants James to help him move a bag of diamonds worth millions of dollars. If James does a good job moving the diamonds, Ray will give him $100,000. James accepts the job because, really, how hard can it be to hold and move a bag of diamonds? And who would turn down what amounts to an easy payday of $100,000?

So, of course, things go to shit almost immediately. While entertaining Angela at his apartment (James has real chemistry with her), Sal and Terry show up at James’ apartment to steal the diamonds for themselves. James and Angela manage to escape with the diamonds before Sal and Terry can do anything and they try to drive away as far as they can. They take Angela’s decrepit car. The car dies on the road. James and Angela then head to a hotel to figure out what to do next. After having a bite to eat, James and Angela head back to their hotel room and discover that the diamonds are gone from the room safe. Who the hell took the diamonds? Was it Sal and Terry? Was it someone else?

James decides to go see his old friend Elliott (Bill Marchant) for help. Elliott knows all about James’ abilities, and Elliott may have something that can “fix” the problem they find themselves in. It’s at this point that Ray, Sal, and Terry show up at Elliott’s house, too, and demand to know what happened to the diamonds.

And that’s when all hell breaks loose, both in the small sense and the big sense. I don’t want to say any more as you should experience what’s really going on with Volition without knowing much more than that. I will say, though, that there’s a chance that what appears to be “time travel” may, in fact, not be time travel at all, at least not in the typical sense. I think there may be something else going on.

And that’s ultimately what’s so fascinating about Volition. You would think a sci-fi movie about clairvoyance and time travel would be big and chock full of action and big deal special effects, but instead Volition is kind of small and mundane. A mob boss wants a clairvoyant to help him move a bag of diamonds? Why isn’t Ray trying to take over the world with James at his side? Hell, why isn’t James trying to take over the world and bend world events to his advantage? Why is James trying to figure out how to pay for his rent? That all seems ridiculous. And yet that’s what’s happening. James’ clairvoyance is something that he can’t control and it’s been a part of his life foe years. It doesn’t make him ambitious at all. James would much rather live a smaller life. He isn’t interested in anything else.

And Ray isn’t that much more ambitious. The whole diamond scheme is out of his usual wheelhouse and ultimately why he freaks out when the diamonds disappear. He probably shouldn’t have done it. He probably should have just continued doing what he always did; relatively low level criminality.

The last half of the movie can be hard to follow and will likely require multiple viewings to figure out. There’s a big puzzle for James and the audience to figure out. I’m not sure I totally understand it or “get” it. I do want to watch the movie again, though, to see what I may have missed. Just what the heck is really going on with Volition?

Volition has a fairly nondescript, generic “everywhere” look to it, which the movie uses to help establish that the characters that are going to be dealing with huge issues later on are not larger than life individuals. Again, all of these people seem to exist on the margins, there doesn’t appear to be anything particularly special about them at all. That’s only the look, though. The reality is they’re all dealing with huge sums of money and gigantic metaphysical ideas. You just don’t expect those kinds of things to exist in the world James and the rest exist in.

The first half of Volition moves at a deliberate pace, setting up the world and the situation James and the others find themselves in. The second half of the movie seems to move along at roughly the same pace as the first half but, because of all of the weird shit that transpires, it also seems like it’s going faster. It’s an odd situation for a movie to be in, but it helps foster that uneasiness that’s important to how the story plays itself out. It’s always great fun when a movie, any movie, does that.

The cast is excellent. Adrian Glynn McMorran does a great job as James. You know, the first time you see him, James is world weary and somewhat defeated, and that’s before you know anything specific about him. McMorran also has a natural likeability that comes off the screen, which helps you root for him a bit as the story unfolds. McMorran also has tremendous chemistry with Magda Apanowicz, who also does a fine job as Angela. In one sense, you want Angela to run away from James because she has enough of her own problems to deal with when the audience meets her. She doesn’t need more stuff to handle. And yet, when James and Angela are together, it just seems natural.

John Cassini is hilarious as Ray the mobster. Cassini isn’t necessarily doing anything we haven’t seen before with a low level mobster character that wants to be a bigger deal than he is, but he does it so well that you can’t help but watch. I’d love to see a movie of some sort of Ray doing his day job. And I mean the whole day, dealing with customers and employees both in person and on the phone. I bet it would be a riot.

Frank Cassini and Aleks Paunovic do a wonderful job as Ray’s henchmen Sal and Terry. They met one another in prison and Sal doesn’t want to go back there, so he admonishes Terry to be mindful of that. If they’re going to be ruthless thugs, they can’t kill anyone, because if they kill someone they’re going to go back to prison. Terry knows that, but it doesn’t seem to guide his life as much as it does Sal. Are they going to survive as a team? Can they survive as a team?

Bill Marchant does an interesting job as Elliott. I say interesting because Marchant has to be overly mysterious when we first meet him, but then he has to hand out necessary information as the movie progresses. Just what the heck is in that strange syringe? Do you believe a word he’s saying? Awesome stuff.

Volition is a great little sci-fi movie. It’s a movie that you will want to watch again and again to try to figure out what’s really going on. You may think you know what’s happening, but there’s a chance you may not. That’s why you will want to watch it again. That’s what I want to do. Right now.

See Volition. See it, see it, see it. The movie is available right now on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and other digital platforms.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Hard to say.

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Rent trouble, a boxing match on TV, some kind of clairvoyance, attempted rape, a wicked punch to the face, wallet jacking, multiple known criminals, drapes, a safe, a bag of diamonds, money, shower usage, a guy writing stuff on the wall, escape via car, an overheated engine, cop hooey, a hotel room, dinner, a sad life story, off screen burglary, a weird drawing, kissing, pissed off bad guys, shooting outdoors, attempted stabbing, an injection, the basement, 1994, bullshit about developing clairvoyance via quantum physics, more life story hooey, an “episode,” a diner, a nasty forehead punch vase to the back of the head, pay phone hooey, a convergence, serious barfing, shovel to the face, a head shot, and confusion.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A guy betting on boxing, a guy named Sal, using a hotel room’s safe to hide a bag of diamonds, a syringe, Einstein Rosen effect, multiple people doing multiple things, a CGI gunshot, someone using duct tape to fix up an arm wound, and confusion.

Best lines: “They say when you die your whole life flashes before your eyes. I wish it were that simple,” “You have until the end of the day, and then your ass is out of here!,” “How do you like that. Cocksucker,” “You just zoned out,” “Drapes weighing you down?,” “Since when are you into diamonds?,” “That’s both our lives in your hands. I’ve got this,” “Ah, fuck,” “Are you going to black out on me every time I ask you a question?,” “How did you know he would say that?,” “I see things. Like what? Things that haven’t happened yet,” “I saw my death. What?,” “Oh, for God’s sake. Just because you can see ahead does not mean you are impotent to choose,” “You make it sound like a disease,” “Jesus Christ, I forgot what a mediocre place this was,” “Where is everyone?,” “Just remember, the present is where we live. Every moment counts,” “And we’re back. Let’s get those diamonds,” “Is that that fucking chick?,” “Ray doesn’t change plans,” “James! You and I have a lot to talk about,” “Such a mess,” “They’re here! Who? The earlier me,” “You’re beginning to fragment,” “Life for a life,” and “Stupid choices, kid.”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Volition is a great, low budget sci-fi flick. It involves potential clairvoyance and, maybe, time travel, but maybe not. It’s a movie that requires you to figure out what’s really going, and there’s a chance that you won’t be able to do that after only one viewing. The movie features a great cast and wonderful direction from director Tony Dean Smith. If you’re a fan of weird sci-fi movies, be sure to check out Volition. It’s definitely worth seeing. Volition is available now via Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, and other digital platforms.

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Volition, Bryan Kristopowitz