In “ECCO,” One Man’s Identity Crisis Comes with a Body Count
A retired assassin is pulled back into his old life when his former employer finds him and threatens the quiet existence he has built for himself and his family. It may sound like ambitious material, especially for a first-time feature director, but that’s exactly the story Ben Medina has decided to tackle in his 2+ hour movie. Medina and his leading man Lathrop Walker, who plays Michael, have worked together previously, but this is the first time the duo have worked on a full-length film with one another.
“ECCO” offers some exceptional visual moments. However, the film as a whole can feel a bit jumbled and slow. While non-linear storytelling can be an effective device, “ECCO” tends to jump very quickly between its two main plots; young Michael’s doomed love story with Aubrey (Helena Grace Donald) and older Michael’s life with his wife Abby (Tabitha Bastien) as they prepare for the birth of their first baby. While the juxtaposition of these two storylines may be necessary, the abrupt switches between them often rob more intense scenes of their momentum. When Michael begins his journey to find the men responsible for his life as a covert agent, much of the urgency dissipates because we cannot stay with him for more than a few beats before we are pulled away for more backstory or tangentially related plot points.
“ECCO”‘s other weakness lies in the implementation of its soundtrack. Especially in the early parts of the movie, it can be too loud and overused. At times, there are scenes between Michael and Aubrey that are difficult to hear and follow over the intrusive thrumming of the score. While the music itself evokes the correct sense of intrigue and suspense, it may have been better left out of more intimate scenes. This would not only make it easier to appreciate the characters’ dialogue, but would make those musical moments more impactful when implemented.
Overall, “ECCO” is a good movie, and one that will likely pave the way for Medina and Walker to create more work in the future. The film itself is quite beautiful throughout. Under Medina’s direction and with cinematography by Duncan Cole, it may well be worth your time if your interests lie in composition and aestheticism. The story, while in many ways familiar, will offer some surprise for most viewers, though it will be up to the individual whether the payoff is worthwhile. The decision to keep the action scenes succinct and to the point benefits this indie thriller when larger budget blockbusters have created such high expectations for many audiences. Michael comes across as capable and deadly, despite the lack of wires and harnesses to create super human fight scenes.
If you are a fan of revenge thrillers or quiet action movies, “ECCO” is for you. It will be interesting to see whether Medina and Walker’s partnership continues into the future, and if so, what it grows into. “ECCO” is playing at the Ritz at the Bourse beginning Friday, August 9th. Showtimes can be found here. If you’d like to learn more about the film or find another theater, you can visit its website.