Echelon Conspiracy

Echelon Conspiracy

2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0

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Echelon Conspiracy‘s opening scene establishes the young, jet-setting protagonist Max Peterson (Shane West) as a computer engineer more than capable of fixing any computer malfunction with MacGyver-esque panache. As Peterson is about to pack up from a business trip in China, a mysterious cellphone arrives from an anonymous sender and instructs him to do various tasks via text message. Some of the suggestive texts produce good outcomes (missing a flight that crashes soon after takeoff; hitting a mega jackpot of three million Euros on a slot machine) as well as bad (several near death threats if he turns the phone off again).

Peterson is greeted by a whole list of colorful characters trying to obtain the origins of the phone and its ominous messages: From the hard-boiled F.B.I. agent, Grant (Ving Rhames), who soon apprehends Peterson, to the head of securities at the casino, John Reed (Edward Burns), who also takes an interest in the computer techie and his conspicuous winnings. The U.S. government is soon revealed as the culprit behind the bountiful misgivings, heralded by the often-commanding (but surprisingly expendable here) Martin Sheen as a high-level government nut-job who predictably runs amuck with despotic leanings.

As far as leading men go, West doesn’t make for a particularly compelling or swoon-worthy one, and the rest of the cast seems like they’re just waiting for their checks to clear. Simply a case of we’ve-seen-this-before-and-better (at least Sandra Bullock’s The Net had camp value), Conspiracy flimsily masquerades as a ticking bomb but is ultimately sans heart-pounding jolts. One thing director Greg Marcks never quite figures out is that all thrillers require thrills, and positioning intangible NSA software as an unstoppable killing machine no longer feels novel. Lacking the tension-filled banter of Hal, this supposed deathly program could more likely cause my computer to freeze, or elicit terror in the hearts and minds of computer-illiterate grandparents everywhere.

Image/Sound

Variety reporter Duane Byrge's "techno-charged" appraisal of the film should apply only to the kinetic soundtrack, a steady succession of bleeps, whooshes, and other loud noises that, for better or worse, leaves one's ears ringing. The image is less forgivable: Strangely gooey-looking, it's damned by instances of combing, shoddy small-object detail, and noticeable haloing.

Extras

Nothing but previews for upcoming titles from Paramount Home Entertainment.

Overall

The only surprise to this by-the-numbers action thriller is that it didn't go straight to video-and that it doesn't star Jon Voight.

Image 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5

Sound 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5

Extras 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5

Overall 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5 2.0 out of 5

Specifications
  • DVD-Video
  • Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital Formats
  • English 5.1 Surround
  • DTS
  • None
  • Subtitles & Captions
  • English Closed Captions
  • English Subtitles
  • French Subtitles
  • Spanish Subtitles
  • Special Features
  • Previews
  • Buy
    DVD
    Release Date
    July 21, 2009
    Distributor
    Paramount Home Entertainment
    Runtime
    105 min
    Rating
    PG-13
    Year
    2009
    Director
    Greg Marcks
    Screenwriter
    Kevin Elders, Michael Nitsberg
    Cast
    Shane West, Edward Burns, Ving Rhames, Sergey Gubanov, Tamara Feldman, Jonathan Pryce, Martin Sheen