Echelon Conspiracy (2009)

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Dave’s 3-Word Review:
A Disengaged Copycat

There are movies that you know a majority love, regardless of their backgrounds, movies you know critics typically find to be quite “tasteful”, and movies that we, as individuals, tend to personally fall in love with…for whatever reason. For me, I have always loved the conspiracy thrillers. It would seem there is no limit to what I’m willing to see in a movie, even if it is a popular conspiracy that has been overdone in the past. One such topic is the super-computer. The idea that somewhere out there, machine is overcoming man, knowing everyone’s every move, and quite possibly can predict the future with shocking accuracy. Eagle Eye did this, as did The Matrix and Enemy of the State. They all have similar plots, but who cares? I loved them all. Echelon Conspiracy had a lot in common with Eagle Eye, but by golly, was it terrible.

Much like Eagle Eye, our title character, Max Peterson (Shane West) receives a message over the phone telling him exactly what to do – step by step…to get where he wants to go. Now, that’s pretty vague because the stories aren’t really all that similar when it came to small details, but is in other regards. The message was sent via text message, not voice, but later, a woman’s voice starts speaking the texts through text-to-speech. However, the main difference here is that for some reason, this woman wants Max to win a bunch of money by predicting winning hands at a nearby casino. Of course, when he doesn’t obey, that’s when this…thing starts threatening his life. Meanwhile, the owners of the casino are starting to get upset, and the FBI gets involved, and they find out that the texts are getting sent from NSA’s Echelon Program somehow…and well…you get the picture.

It’s not that this movie had a bad idea, because it didn’t. It borrowed from a really interesting topic, but the major flaw that this film held was not engaging with its audience. This is pretty much because of one primary reason – it wasn’t unique. Yes, it has a similar plot seen in many other movies, but those other movies made it their own. I will try to make this as simple as I can; Echelon is a NSA thing that is able to hack into your emails, texts, phone conversations, laptop webcams, etc. They utilize this idea by…just saying it out loud. And then, it has something to do with telling people how to win money and then kills them…not really feeling the danger here. It’s almost as if Echelon telling these people that they are going to kill them was just put in there half-heartedly to enlist danger.

Next, production value was definitely not all there…they obviously had the cash flow to actually go to different countries to film, yet they had no idea how to actually make that look cool. You have no idea how much the scenery of these locations can make a movie look beautiful until a movie doesn’t even recognize their beauty, and it is just some random thing in the background.

The acting was terrible…so terrible that the actors didn’t even seem to be enjoying themselves while doing their scenes…and there is some really great talent going on as well. Actors that you will for sure recognize while watching…and yet…they do nothing for the movie. Nothing. I once heard about this movie, but for some reason through space and time, it vanished never to be seen or heard from again. So what did I do? I tracked the little sucker down…well that’s great.

I love conspiracy, and just because it is about a conspiracy, I wanted to see what was coming next enough to finish the film. They correctly explained what Echelon is, which in itself is creepy. The only problem is that we have already heard it all before, make your own spin off of it, for goodness sake. Basically, if you want to waste your time, you can check this out…otherwise – Eagle Eye is the way to go.

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