“The Echelon Conspiracy” like “Spring Breakdown” shows a growing trend of making theatrical level films that end up going straight to Blu Ray. The aspect here is a fairly good cast and nice locations despite a somewhat basic storyline. The throughline follows a computer that is supposed to be a watch dog for the NSA and protect the freedom of Americans. It starts operating outside its parameters on its own which we eventually find is a glitch in its programming. It traces the government involvement in cover-ups which brings to mind HAL’s conundrum in “2001”. Now this is an adequate perception and the film does not play it over the top. It keeps its progression fairly rooted in reality although the eventual resolution and placement of a Russian operative seems a little suspect.
Shane West, who hasn’t been seen as much lately, places a young ex-NSA operative who happens to be picked by the computer to become the recipient of money although the perceptions of the machine and why it is texting him specifically do not seem to make much sense. That said the surrounding direct circle of Ving Rhames and Ed Burns and the peripheral parts of Jonathan Pryce and Martin Sheen throw some definite acting chops into the selection. Granted with some points (especially with Rhames and Sheen) you can see a slight wincing in the dialogue despite the fact that it serves the plot. The shooting in St. Petersburg Square in Moscow, like many more high budgeted films, gives the production a sense of scope and a very techno-based but very “Bourne”-like score along with a very fluid but subtle visual style gives the film an specific edge.
“The Echelon Conspiracy” is entertaining at times because it is not too intrinsic, doesn’t take itself too seriously and has the right amount of fun. While on an opening weekend it might get lost, it is a nice effective “night at the movies” at home which is sometimes lost on the big budget spectacles. People need simple pleasures and a mid budget thriller like this one (which brings to mind how “Taken” was made) shows an efficiency and clarity of filmmaking because it knows what it is. Out of 5, I give it a 2 1/2.