ECCO, written and directed by Ben Medina, is a new crime drama film that legitimately couldn’t be more frustrating. With a storyline that is hard-to-follow, too long, and quite frankly not that interesting, this movie is a great example of how genre cinema can go very wrong.
This film is about a former assassin who, after escaping the business to live a quiet life and start a new family, is pulled back in when his old employers return to bury him. Does this sound familiar? That’s because it’s the plot of almost every hitman-centered movie known to man. And since the John Wick series achieved so much success, everyone and their brother has been trying to capture that lighting in a bottle again, often to no avail.
What is perhaps most frustrating about this movie is that it is extremely confusing and hard-to-follow. Although the arc the character is experiencing is obvious, it takes a while to figure out what is going on with the structure of the film, and even then, you will be left questioning whether what you think is happening is really happening. In some cases, ambiguity can work well, but in this movie, it is simply annoying.
The character development isn’t very strong either. Sadly, at this point, the murder of a spouse doesn’t work as a blanket motivation anymore. There needs to be more than that to the character, as that is used so frequently now. Since this film doesn’t add anything else to the protagonist’s personality to make him more compelling, the movie just feels like a bland revenge movie.
No one in the cast is given particularly much to do because the story and characterization are both so light. You can tell that some of the actors in the cast have a lot of talent, but this film just doesn’t allow them to show it. The lead Lathrop Walker, for example, has a few scenes in which he shows legitimate charisma. If he weren’t brooding and mumbling all the time, maybe his performance would have been really good.
It’s a shame that the movie isn’t better-written because the action sequences, when present, are actually somewhat impressive. They are too short and way too few and far between, but those moments are just enough to make you long for what this film could have been. Had the movie been about thirty minutes shorter and had a more concise structure, this could have been a fun B-movie. As is, it feels like a pretentious drama trying to be an “elevated” action film.
There are also some very good and ambitious visuals in the movie. However, a few gorgeous shots don’t make up for a bad story. Unfortunately, the film would almost be more entertaining if you turned off the audio and just watched the shots as a visual essay of sorts. Medina definitely has a great eye — he just needs to use a script written by someone else on his next movie.
Despite some strong visuals, ECCO is a generally unpleasant film because it lacks what a movie needs most: a story. It’s surprising that this is getting as wide of a release as it is, but that just goes to show how desperately the cinemas need to be revitalized right now.
ECCO is now playing in theaters.