Echo Boomers is another of those movies about the battle for the integrity of a man’s soul and the overarching question of whether he had a soul in the first place. Co-writer/director Seth Savoy’s film is perhaps the furthest away from being subtle that a movie can be, but that doesn’t matter quite as much as one might think. The movie follows the misadventures of a group of Robin Hood/Merry Men types who, impacted negatively by the financial imbalance of a major recession and a hoarding of wealth by the wealthiest among us, opt to vandalize and burgle the houses of the rich. Our protagonist is a wet-behind-the-ears newcomer to this group, and so, of course, he is also the audience stand-in, an outsider who can offer a perspective on the group and its mission.

The problem, then, isn’t the lack of subtlety. These are not subtle times, but it would have been nice for Savoy and co-screenwriters Jason Miller and Kevin Bernhardt to have taken a nuanced approach to this material. All we get here are the broadest possible beats and a properly dull protagonist to rally behind. There is nothing interesting about Lance Zutterland, the budding art-historian-turned-petty-criminal at the film’s center, and there is even less that is interesting about the way Patrick Schwarzenegger plays the role or, especially, the bland, disaffected, at-times incessant narration, delivered with the cadence of someone reading aloud from a textbook for the first time. He’s here to be the college freshman of sorts, to be hazed and initiated by the other members of the group.

Lance has been reunited with his cousin Jack (Gilles Geary, quite good and easily giving the best performance here), who has a business proposition for him. He tells Lance that the job is in “acquisitions” but otherwise doesn’t reveal to him that the “job” is stealing from the rich and vandalizing their homes, much the better to lash back at the wealthy for leaving no options on the table for those who don’t have many advantages. The other members are Ellis (Alex Pettyfer), his girlfriend Allie (Hayley Law), and two others, Chandler (Jacob Alexander) and Stewart (Oliver Cooper), who might as well be interchangeable. The leader of the operation is Mel (Michael Shannon, who could play this role in his sleep and, indeed, seems halfway to a nap here), who has little patience for nonsense in his team.

The film’s pattern is fairly obvious for a while: The group is given an address by Mel, who has researched how to weasel into the lives of some hapless target, and then attacks the home and takes or destroys what is most valuable. Lance begins to see a lot of problems with this operation, and soon the other members want more money. Elsewhere, Allie also begins to see the destructive path she’s gone down since wanting to pursue humanitarian concerns. A minor flirtation develops between Allie and Lance, much to the chagrin of Ellis, who is a toxically jealous type. Also of concern is the relationship between Lance and Jack, or at least these things would be of concern to filmmakers who had more of an interest in genuinely exploring them.

The lazy method of structuring the story as mostly a flashback would suggest that the screenwriters’ main concern is the melodramatic angle. Its framing device is a conversation between Lance and a writer (Lesley Ann Warren) who is researching for a book, which is why the film provides narration (in which Lance puts forth the theory that such fringe guerilla suburban warfare operates much like the criminal underworld, with 10 “rules” provided in onscreen text). It’s one of the laziest possible routes, but that seems to be the only route that makes sense to Savoy, who otherwise fails to bring any sense of outward style or suspense to the story. Echo Boomers is vaguely timely in its takedown of capitalism, but that’s just an artifact floating off to the side of an old-hat moral thriller.

Savoy fails to bring any sense of outward style or suspense to the story.
40 %
Capitalism…Is Bad!
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