A vicious action thriller pitting Olga Kurylenko against James Purefoy

Momentum is a female-driven action vehicle meant to start a new franchise. Lead actress Olga Kurylenko battles it out with Jame Purefoy in this high-octane criminal thriller. Morgan Freeman plays a shady U.S. Senator with a nefarious agenda. Director Stephen Campanelli’s rookie feature is a self-assured blend of high-stakes action and conspiracy intrigue, much in the vein of the Bourne franchise.

Momentum is one of those action films where you sit back and enjoy the stylish, over-the-top ride. The plot takes place in South Africa, though the international location could have been any large city. It opens with one of the more original bank robbery scenes in recent memory. A group of four masked criminals in high-tech gear run roughshod over the hostages as they attempt to crack the bank’s vault.

We are soon introduced to Alexis Faraday, dynamically played by Olga Kurylenko. Taking a cue from Angelina Jolie’s starring turn in Salt, Kurylenko is the consummate professional criminal in Momentum as Alexis. She’s a capable thief with a background shrouded in mystery. She will need all her skills to survive a relentless enemy.

What starts out as a simply bank robbery becomes far deadlier for Alexis when she gets entangled in a government conspiracy with global implications. She has to constantly fight for her life in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a master assassin and his team of cronies, Mr. Washington (James Purefoy). He soon proves himself a nasty opponent doing the bidding of his master, a corrupt U.S. Senator played by Morgan Freeman. Freeman plays against type as a sinister politician employing a team of assassins. If you are a huge Morgan Freeman fan, his role is not particularly large.

The movie does paper over why a U.S. Senator would have connections in South Africa, but it’s a minor plot hole not worth worrying over. What may frustrate some is that the movie ends at a point clearly meant to be picked up in a sequel.

Credibility isn’t a problem for Kurylenko as she pulls off tough looking stunts and handles weapons with a cool ease.

Actress Olga Kurylenko imparts an air of authenticity into her leading role. So many of these action thrillers with female stars fail when the name actress can’t convincingly pull off the demands of being an action star. Credibility isn’t a problem for Kurylenko as she pulls off tough looking stunts and handles weapons with a cool ease.

Momentum’s main strengths are a string of stunning action sequences, from a wild car chase to chaotic shoot-outs. The movie starts with a bang and rarely lets up in its breakneck pacing. It also has a surprisingly nasty undertone that would have certainly earned it an R rating with its penchant for graphic violence. Purefoy is his usual self, a veteran actor that chews up scenery as he trades barbs with Alexis. He’s not the intimidating physical presence one would expect from a villainous antagonist but somehow makes it work.

Momentum is a derivative but energetic action thriller that delivers the goods. If one is looking for a solid dose of stylish action done with flair, Momentum is your movie. This movie could have turned out generic but Olga Kurylenko has a certain presence that demands one see Momentum if you like female action heroines.

Movie ★★★★☆

Stand-off @ 9:52

Distributor Anchor Bay/Starz presents Momentum at its intended 2.40:1 aspect ratio in 1080P resolution. The 96-minute main feature is on a BD-25, encoded in AVC. The video encode averages an adequate 22 Mbps. This is fairly sharp but average picture quality for a new release. Drenched in a restrained color palette, the flat cinematography has decent clarity.

Momentum is the epitome of average video detail and resolution. The flawless video transfer captures its ordinary level of fine detail, left untouched by filtering but still lacking better resolution. Most of that can be attributed to the ordinary, dull cinematography and a limited color palette that avoids deeply saturated primary colors.

The video encode sufficiently captures the digital film intermediate without introducing severe artifacts. The mostly pristine video only falters in the darkest shots, when poor exposure produces clumpy noise and streaking.

This is a perfectly acceptable Blu-ray release that has flashes of great picture quality but all too often is let down by the film’s cinematography. Starz presents the movie as it was created and intended.

Video ★★★☆☆

Audio junkies should be pleased with the fine 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The discrete sound mix effectively uses significant bass and a bevy of surround moments to fill the entire sound field with explosive effects. This is sound design intended for modern action, through and through. It is presented in crisp fidelity with accurate dialogue.

There are no problems heard and the surround mix definitely meets expectations for a new action film. Momentum has a solid action soundtrack with the usual amount of energy and panning.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are provided in a white font. They remain inside the scope framing of the film at all times.

Audio ★★★★☆

A bunch of trailers for other movies and a lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette round out the special features.

Trailers (05:39 in HD) – Trailers for Northmen: A Viking Saga, The Anomaly, and 7 Minutes all play in order before the main menu.

Behind the Scenes (23:31 in HD) – Director Stephen Campanelli and the main cast go over the film in this documentary. Campanelli is more insightful about actually making the movie and his goals than the cast members, most of whom offer platitudes that fit better in EPK material. I appreciate they put everything together in one extended documentary instead of cutting it up into five brief featurettes for appearance’s sake. I wouldn’t call this bonus material that insightful but Campanelli does offer some useful background information.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.