Heist films rank among my personal favorite subgenres, with great filmmakers often juxtaposing the methodical initial planning stages with an equally unhinged and ferocious final climax (Den of Thieves and American Animals are some recent favorites). First-time writer/director Seth Savoy looks to strike a similar blend with his debut feature Echo Boomers, a film that combines its heist machinations with the often-maligned milieu of discontented millennials. While intriguing in its conception, Savoy’s film fails to impress on a technical or thematic level.
Based on a (loosely) true story, Echo Boomers follows Lance Zutterland (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a recent college graduate who leaves school in debt, realizing everything he had worked towards was built on a lie. When he is pulled into a criminal underground operation, he finds his peers fighting the system by stealing from the rich and giving to themselves. With nothing to lose, they leave behind a trail of destruction, but with the cops closing in, tensions mount and Lance soon discovers he is in over his head with no way out.
To Savoy’s credit, enhancing his heist film formula with personal ruminations on a disenfranchised generation has potential on paper. His script makes an earnest effort to dissect millennial’s mindsets, an age group that feels failed by a society that preached a formula of success that rarely comes to fruition. The issues arise from Savoy’s inability to present this conceit with dramatic grace. Monotone voiceover often serves the purpose of displaying these concepts, spelling out their core meaning with a forward clumsiness. Echo Boomers’ throughline reads with a cheesy rah-rah attitude, never matching its fast-and-furious narrative with nuanced ideas.
After stripping away the intriguing thematic flavoring, Echo Boomers stands as your typical run-of-the-mill actioner. Savoy never engages with his alluring rise-and-fall material in visceral ways, often relying upon chaotic edits to provide a semblance of style. The flat camera work is rarely spiced up with peppy execution choices, making the apparent budgetary restrictions all the more obvious in the process. I am extremely partisan to low-budget filmmakers who utilize their limited assets to the fullest, but there’s nothing present on-screen that capably displays much filmmaking vigor.
Perhaps what derails Echo Boomers is the weightlessness that permeates each frame. Savoy’s script provides no characters to truly attach to, as they often range between blandly earnest do-gooders (Schwarzenegger and Hayley Law’s roles) to flavorless villains that lack real weight (Alex Pettyfer and Michael Shannon, with Shannon deserving so much more than the thinly-conceived role he’s given). The acting isn’t up to snuff to elevate the contrivances either, with Schwarzenegger having similarly flawed acting chops as his father. Where Arnold was able to mask his weaknesses with movie star charisma, Patrick doesn’t yet have the gravity to grab audiences’ interest. The narrative also lacks any genuine surprises, traversing through well-traveled territory without employing inventive wrinkles (audiences can seemingly set their watch to when each plot beat will appear).
Floating through its 94 minutes run time while barely registering an impression, Echo Boomers’ mere competence can’t deliver a thrilling experience.
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