The generic title of Momentum is telling. Isn’t accelerating motion the least one would expect in an action film?
Longtime camera operator Stephen S. Campanelli’s directorial debut is frustratingly by-the-book, with all the trappings of a movie marketed to rowdy fifteen-year-old boys. The opening heist by a group of foulmouthed men in creepy, voice-disguising robot-like suits builds a semblance of suspense, but the shots cut so quickly that there’s no real way to get a foothold on just what is happening. One of the scary uniformed crooks removes a mask (which, spoiler alert, leads to all hell breaking loose) and surprise! She’s an attractive woman.
The fact that Momentum has a female lead makes it (unfortunately) a bit of a novelty — we have a long way to go when it comes to the representation of women as action heroes. While Olga Kurylenko uses her accent and attitude to passably badass effect as Alex, the mysterious thief, the film is not above objectifying her. A shot of her butt while she wanders, panty-clad, around her hotel room is particularly egregious.
If Momentum committed to a campier aesthetic, or gave its characters more personality, it might be a fun watch. Instead, we’re left with a dreary gray palette and an appearance from Morgan Freeman phoning it in as a senator. There are bullets moving in slow motion, car chases, smarmy men, and constant, ominous “DUNNN DUNNNN” sounds. All of these hallmarks of contemporary action cinema make for a feature that, yes, has forward motion, but is mostly a bore.
Directed by Stephen S. Campanelli
Starz Digital Media
Opens October 16, Cinema Village
Available on demand
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 13, 2015