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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 12.11.19] Canada scifi thriller drama

Time travel has long been a staple sci-fi trope and with so many ways to tell a story, it's a familiar plot point that is frequently used, and even more frequently abused. And yet, I'm always on the lookout for the next little movie that blows my mind and while Volition doesn't exactly re-write the time travel paradox, it certainly makes use of it to great results.

James is clairvoyant and mostly uses his ability to see flashes of the future for personal gain on sports bets and occasionally renting himself out to petty criminals to help them better perform their misdeeds. When he begins to see flashes of his death, James becomes obsessed with changing the future which becomes far more complicated when his actions lead him to an encounter with Angela who becomes a central component of the events surrounding his death.

While there's a lot going on in Volition, one of the movies' key strengths is that it focuses on an engaging story and characters and while co-writers Tony Dean Smith and Ryan W. Smith incorporate an interesting time-travel concept into the story, they don't rely on it as a crutch or get bogged down by the mechanics or science of it.

It certainly helps that Tony Dean Smith, who also directs, casts an immensely compelling actor in the lead. Adrian Glynn McMorran gives an excellent performance as James, the floundering clairvoyant who manages to sell the turn from a guy purely bent on preserving his self-interest to someone willing to put his life on the line for someone else. It sounds like a ridiculous, eye-rolling turn but the Smiths largely avoid romantic cliches and McMorran really sells the transition.

Volition is notable for its time travel mythology which is innovative and the method for travel is not something I've seen before. Also impressive is that the movie actually attempts, and does a fairly good job, of explaining the reason James has this power and more than that, it sets forth a set of rules for the travel and sticks to those rules. It seems like a small thing to note but so many movies that incorporate time travel break their own logic in order to advance the story but not the Smiths; they incorporate the rules into the plot which makes the film that much more enjoyable.

With so many moving parts, Volition could easily have fallen apart in any number of places but Dean Smith doesn't only keep it together but delivers a hugely entertaining drama deserving of a spot alongside other recent mind-bending favourites like Predestination or Coherence.

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