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When advanced computer technology is operated with light switches, and the KGB is the world's best friend

Mandos's picture

Behold another Mandos movie review to brighten your day.

Last night I saw "Echelon Conspiracy". Verdict: OMG! Worst. Script. Writing. Since. Attack. Of. The. Clones. My eyes! My eyes! I tried hard but I cannot find a way in which it does not suck.

Fortunately, it is the kind of bad that makes it an ideal candidate for geek movie nights. As you can tell from the title, it's a techie surveillance-paranoia movie, and in fact it is a knockoff of "Eagle Eye". "Eagle Eye" was no "Slumdog Millionaire", not least because it stars that annoying Sunni LePoulet guy, but it had a plot twist that was worth the price of admission. "Echelon" tries, but it is completely deus ex machina and weak.

The attempt at romance is completely fake, with one of the worst random sex scenes I have ever seen in a PG-13 movie. Seriously, do the serious-movie actresses who do this feel exploited? Because the female "lead" had almost zero plot role. But then no one had a plot role, because there was no sensible plot. "Eagle Eye" avoided this, with a female lead with real pathos and a decent plot role, and no sex scene, because, face it, no one wants to see Shia LeBoeuf in the, well, boeuf*.

When watching these kinds of movies, I have to factor out the "techie cringe" thing that happens when someone who knows kind-of how these things work in real life sees the hackneyed versions they put in film. It's different from other SF tropes, because unlike, say, faster-than-light space travel, haxx0r stuff in movies carries this overt conceit of realism or plausibility with it. Even though it isn't.

The only redeeming qualities of "Echelon Conspiracy" as anything but a Bad Movie Night movie was the score/mood music, which was actually kind of decent, and the fact that they portray Russian intelligence as the saviours of the world, which is unintentionally funny. In a meta kind of way (because it made zero sense either). But with the severe anachronism of being set in the Bush era with Bush era government-bureaucrat caricatures, I recommend avoiding this clunker, needless to say.

Unless, of course, you plan in a few months to BitTorrent it for a geek movie night with an auditorium projector and a screen and some friends who work in web security research. Then I suggest you keep this on your list. Otherwise, if you must watch a low-quality surveillance-paranoia film by yourself, go out and rent "Eagle Eye".

*Yes, I tried hard to work this line in.

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Submitted by Mandos on

...if you're going to film a DC subway scene, then you should film it in DC. Yes, you can get away with filming a Boston or NYC subway scene in Toronto, because they all use Bombardier trains and have relatively nondescript stations. But DC stations are unique. Either don't try to pretend, or go to DC, but sticking up a brown sign with a yellow dot and "Fort Totten" on it just doesn't cut it when the trains are square.