- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
- Region: A
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Paramount
- Release Date: July 21, 2009
- List Price: $39.99
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How do actors like Ving Rhames and Martin Sheen end up in a run of the mill spy thriller like Echelon Conspiracy that feels like it should be running on the SciFi (or is that SyFy?) Channel on a Saturday night? Globe trotting spy thrillers are a dime a dozen these days and Echelon Conspiracy is hardly worth a dozen dimes. Sharing more than a passing resemblance to the awful Shia LaBeouf vehicle Eagle Eye, Echelon Conspiracy finds the terribly miscast Shane West in the lead role as Max Peterson, a computer security analyst caught in a technological conspiracy involving a smartphone and the NSA’s surveillance software, Echelon. You read correctly. With national security hanging in the balance, Max Peterson and his fancy phone come under scrutiny as he begins receiving text messages from an unknown source that help him win big in a casino in Prague. Soon, the FBI and NSA begin to suspect that someone has gained control of the NSA’s Echelon program and is routing the messages through their system. The government takes Max into custody using him as bait to lure the people behind the conspiracy to them.
This is when Echelon Conspiracy begins to take a turn for the worse becoming a dull, paint by numbers spy thriller with predictable dialogue and even more predictable action sequences. There hasn’t been an Internet age ode to technophobia this goofy since Angelina Jolie’s 90′s romp Hackers. Echelon Conspiracy bumbles its way through every requisite device the genre will allow, from high rolling casino scenes to the obvious shootouts and car chases. There’s even an unintentionally hilarious grilling of a Russian suspect by Ed Burns.
Despite director Greg Marcks’ failed attempts at wrapping Bourne, Daniel Craig’s 007 in Casino Royale, and every John le Carré novel into Echelon Conspiracy at once, the film fails to introduce anything new to this well-worn genre. Echelon is no more than a B movie that somehow avoided a direct-to-video release.
Echelon Conspiracy’s 2.35:1 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding looks clean and sharply detailed with strong black levels and a fine film-like grain structure. There are no obvious compression artifacts or processing misdeeds, but the transfer does suffer from blown out contrast levels that clip and bloom and red push in the flesh tones.
The dynamic range in Echelon Conspiracy’s English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, the disc’s sole audio option, can hardly be considered subtle. The sound often goes from quiet to ear-achingly loud and thunderous in an instant. Low frequencies boom and the high frequencies can be quite harsh, deafening and fatiguing as the bullets start to fly and tires start screeching in this hyperactive mix.
This release comes with no supplements, not even a booklet.
The Definitive Word
This may be worth a good laugh on the weekend to pass some time with while loading up on popcorn and the soundtrack will give your sound system a decent enough workout, but definitely rent Echelon Conspiracy as your first option.