Echelon Conspiracy

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Echelon Conspiracy
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(Run Time: 106 Minutes)

Edward Burns and Ving Rhames in After Dark Films’ “Echelon Conspiracy” (2009).

Edward Burns and Ving Rhames in After Dark Films’ “Echelon Conspiracy” (2009).

This is a ham-handed, unprofessional, amateurish, silly attack on the Patriot Act and the Bush Administration’s monitoring of telephone messages from terrorists. With Martin Sheen in a supporting role, one expects a frivolous, ideological left wing slant, but this one is particularly odious.
The first time Max Peterson (Shane West) appears on the screen, I knew I was in for a long movie. West is so inept at creating a devil-may-care protagonist that the movie failed in that nanosecond. The fact that the plot is so absurdly political merely makes bad, worse. Hammering nails into the coffin, West appears in almost every scene.
As to the story, Peterson receives a cell phone in the mail and it unerringly predicts things that bring him great winnings. Of course this leads him into depths of mystery that are beyond him, in the course of which he meets John Reed (Ed Burns, the only person in the movie who gives a professional performance), a former FBI agent, Dave Grant (Ving Rhames), an FBI agent, and Kamila (Tamara Feldman), a seducer of questionable loyalty. Jonathan Pryce, who has a reputation as a competent actor, even shows up in what amounts to little more than a cameo.
This was directed by Greg Marcks and written by Kevin Elders and Michael Nitsberg (at least those are the ones who got credit, and I don’t think they were collaborators; this is one film that if the writers had any disagreements or disputes, it was probably to keep their names off of it instead of fighting for credit). It is such a hackneyed presentation it even has a foolish car chase that goes on and on and on. At one point during the chase, which is in Moscow, Reed asks Max to find a map, which he does. They come to an intersection and Reed says, “left or right?” Now, you have to realize that they have driven what seems like a hundred miles through the streets of Moscow and Reed has never asked for directions. But suddenly he needs directions at this particular intersection.
It also has the obligatory gun fights with millions of bullets being shot, hitting nothing but walls. What I never understand about these movie gun battles is how the bullets always leave huge holes in the walls, but never seem to hit the people who are hiding behind those walls.
With an ending that is such clumsy propaganda it could have been scripted by Vladimir Putin’s KGB, anybody going to watch this film need not hide behind a wall to keep from being exposed to talent or entertainment.

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