Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE ECHELON CONSPIRACY (Blu-Ray)

Despite a solid cast of professional character actors, THE ECHELON CONSPIRACY, a wannabe techno-thriller from director Greg Marcks and Dark Castle Entertainment is remarkably short on "thrills," and long on "errs." As in, "Err.. what?"

Shane West (LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN) is a computer security consultant who is sent a new cellular phone as a gift from an unknown sender. Almost immediately after turning it on, he starts receiving mysterious text messages that, when followed, first allows him to avoid dying in a fatal air crash and then make a killing on the stock market. So, when these anonymous text messages suggest that he fly to Prague and gamble in a casino there, he does. Soon, of course, he attracts the attention of various law enforcement and security agencies, all of whom want to know where the messages are coming from…

THE ECHELON CONSPIRACY feels very much like a made-for-TV movie and basically covers the same tired ground as Tony Scott’s ENEMY OF THE STATE and last year’s equally stupid EAGLE EYE. Good actors like Ving Rhames, Ed Burns, Martin Sheen and Jonathan Pryce pick up easy paychecks for playing clich├ęd, underwritten characters in a story riddled with illogic. All of that could be excused if the film was entertaining, but it just plods along towards its ludicrous conclusion with no energy or momentum at all.

Paramount has brought this clunker to Blu-Ray with a widescreen, 2.35:1 1080 HD transfer and Dolby TrueHD audio. The transfer is wildly inconsistent, with some scenes seeming to be washed out and undersaturated, while in others, the colors seem to run too hot, especially fleshtones. Perhaps understandably, the studio didn’t bother to spring for any supplemental features, not even the now-standard "Making Of" doc or even trailers for other studio releases.

Not recommended.

BUY: Echelon Conspiracy [Blu-ray]