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Echelon Conspiracy - Blu-ray Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}As Echelon Conspiracy opens, we meet computer security engineer Max Peterson (Shane West), as he receives a mysterious package in his Bangkok hotel room containing a magic cell phone that seemingly predicts the future. When he receives a text message notifying him that his hotel is currently offering a half-price deal, he checks at the front counter and sure enough, he's able to book another night for half the going rate. After warning him to change his flight, Max is stunned to learn the next day that the cell phone correctly predicted the crash of the plane on which he was scheduled to depart. Next, the phone tells him that a particular slot machine is about to deliver a jackpot. He plays it, and it does, netting him a cool 100 grand.

Echelon  ConspiracyTo this point, Echelon Conspiracy delivers a lot of promise as audiences are always enthused by plots that take us through contemplative what-if scenarios and thrilling casino takes. It's entertaining to place ourselves in the protagonist's shoes and think about all the possibilities such a phone could offer. There's even an exciting foot-chase through the casino floor when the authorities become suspicious that Max may be cheating them out of millions.

But the proceedings quickly fall apart and our interest wanes when Max hooks up with a casino security officer (Edward Burns), and an FBI agent (Ving Rhames) who chase him across the globe while slowly uncovering the phone's nefarious origins which include a secretive network that collects and analyzes every single piece of electronic data that travels around the world through a phalanx of cell phones, fax machines and video surveillance cameras. The film hopes to ratchet up the level of tension by revealing that each person who previously owned the phone has since died. But through an unfortunate combination of careless screenwriting by Kevin Elders and Michael Nitsberg, and incompetent direction from Greg Marcks - who's clearly over his head here - the film completely loses its way and turns into a convoluted and monotonous mess. It obviously wants to be a clever "big-brother-is-watching" technological thriller with the impact of Logan's Run or Minority Report. But its schizophrenic feel, poor dialogue, egregious implausibilities and over-the-top action sequences never allow the plot to fall into an entertaining groove. Instead it's just an hour and a half of mostly uninteresting cinema interrupted by the occasional twinge of excitement.

The idea of a coordinated network of governments that closely scrutinizes our day-to-day electronic communications is really an eerie concept to contemplate - especially knowing that a real-life Echelon exists and certainly carries the potential for an interesting movie plot. As viewers, we should be whipped into an incensed rage at such thoughts. But unfortunately, the filmmakers never play off those fears enough to evoke any strong emotions from the audience. Instead they go for the low-hanging fruit such as blowing up cars and knocking down buildings. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for a film that hopes to influence by capitalizing on Bush-era government spy tactics and big brother sci-fi paranoia, detonating tons of TNT seems cheap and exploitative.

There's a great movie to be born from the alarming premise that the world's most powerful countries may be listening to or watching our electronic conversations or public movements at this very moment. Several movies in the last decade or so have tried to capitalize on the anxiety such a concept can bring, including last year's Eagle Eye, which, despite its own set of problems, was far more effective than this one. But unfortunately we'll have to wait for the film that effectively shows us what there is to be afraid of.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
1 Star
1 Star
DVD Experience
1 Star

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Screen Formats: 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer.

Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai

Language and Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.

Supplements:

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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