There are times when a film is made and you wonder if it was a genuine rip off of another film or if they just took longer to produce it. But it’s not a big deal because those films usually go straight to DVD and are rarely heard from. Not the case with Echelon Conspiracy — this film somehow managed to skip into theaters for a quick jaunt in March in 400 theaters, run away with $666,009 in box office receipts (fantastic number) and never be heard from again. If you’re like me and didn’t live in a city of one of those 400 theaters, then you no don’t never even heard of this film to begin with. The cover immediately evokes some kind of Bourne Identity flick, but what we end up with is something nearly identical to another crazy computer film from a year back…
When Max Peterson (Shane West) receives a series of mysterious cell phone messages that promise him untold wealth, he soon finds himself the victim of a deadly international plot. Chased by a lethal team of government operatives, Max races across the planet in a desperate attempt to unravel a conspiracy that threatens the stability of the entire world. Edward Burns, Ving Rhames and Martin Sheen co-star in this techno-charged edge-of-your-seat action thriller!
Don’t strain your brain too much—this movie does sound, look, and feel almost identical to Eagle Eye. I’ll spare you a recap of the plot, as it’s pretty much the same what with the all knowing computer suckering someone into believing it’s something “good” and then it ultimately turning out to be some big machine created to protect America when it, in fact, doesn’t. Because it’s a computer and computer’s are bad, mmmkay?
It should also be noted that film star Shane West is not actually Timothy Olyphant, who I originally thought it was at first. Not that it should be a big concern considering both seem to star in nothing but mediocre flicks that no one sees, but I felt it worth mentioning just because it threw me at first. That and I’m going to struggle to find something nice and original to say about this film, so I thought it best to pad the review up front. He actually kind of looks a bit like Brian Austin Green as well, from certain angles and least and maybe some Neil Patrick Harr–oh, you’re still reading this? Well, ok, if you insist.
This film sucks. I’m sure that’s a huge surprise to everyone, but considering how much I disliked Eagle Eye, watching it’s less wealthy step-sibling-cousin attempt to rope me into nearly the same story…well, what’s that saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Now whoever wants to fool me three times….well, go ahead. I dare you. I’m prepared now. I’m tired of films that are set up as something kind of cool and then it’s revealed that some super intelligent computer that thinks it knows better is actually behind it all. It’s an old concept, sure, but it’s never really worked in the film medium, simply because the payoff is always this huge let down. It’s built up to be some super bad ass…something or other, but when it’s just a load of silicon behind it all, it gets to be kind of annoying.
I will admit that the opening of the film was entertaining enough; the unknown element of these types of films always is. Whether it’s the discovery of a cache of guns, a thrilling car chase or something huge blowing up like in Eagle Eye or the idea of our main character winning relentlessly at slots in Vegas in Echelon Conspiracy, there’s a bit of cheap entertainment to be had…but it doesn’t last. It eventually has to take on the films “plot” and once that happens, everyone suffers.
Overall Echelon Conspiracy isn’t so much a bad film as it is a bad concept. Other films have fallen into the same trap and when something so disappointing as Eagle Eye is so fresh in the minds of the movie going public, unleashing a nearly identical film (from the same studio no less) is just bad for all involved. Skip It unless you happened to love Eagle Eye and feel you could enjoy something half as good as it was (considering the only enjoyable thing in Eagle Eye was the action, which Echelon doesn’t do well when compared to Eagle Eye).
Paramount has released Echelon Conspiracy on Blu-ray in a single disc release in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Inside is…well, the disc and nothing else. Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 1080p transfer that is about as boring as the film itself. As is the case with these tech fueled films, a cold blue appearance is cast over the majority of the film and even when we’re transported outdoors it’s an overblown orange/red palette. Nothing ever feels “real” and you never really care either, so I guess it doesn’t matter in the end. Still, there’s nothing that ever catches your eye in the film aside from a few close up shots that highlight the detail ability of Blu-ray.
The audio is a TrueHD 5.1 mix that is probably the most enjoyable thing about it. The action sequences really kick up quite a bit of dust in the surrounds and LFE channel, but even that’s finite. It’s not a relentless mix and it isn’t something that will always keep your attention (like the film). Still, it’s adequate and enough for what amounts to a film that should’ve a DTV release from the beginning.
Extras included here is an impressive array. Included are six commentaries, fifty deleted scenes and twelve hours of behind the scenes featurettes. Nah, I’m just kidding. There is jack-all included here, unless you consider Spanish, French, and English subtitles as special features.
Overall a release well worth Skipping.
The Echelon Conspiracy is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.