Combustible Celluloid
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With: Patrick Schwarzenegger, Alex Pettyfer, Hayley Law, Michael Shannon, Jacob Alexander, Oliver Cooper, Gilles Geary, Lesley Ann Warren
Written by: Kevin Bernhardt, Jason Miller, Seth Savoy
Directed by: Seth Savoy
MPAA Rating: R for drug use and pervasive language
Running Time: 94
Date: 11/13/2020

Echo Boomers (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Art 'Echo'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The crime drama Echo Boomers seems to want to tap into generational anxieties and provide an intoxicating release, but instead it plays like a pale, dull copy of many other movies, with blandly recycled themes.

Art history major Lance (Patrick Schwarzenegger) is riddled with student debt and can't get much more than a minimum-wage job. His cousin Jack (Gilles Geary) summons him to Chicago with the promise of employment. Unfortunately, the job consists of breaking into the homes of the wealthy and stealing expensive things; Lance can help identify the most valuable paintings. They also totally trash these places, and then spend all their money partying.

At first, Lance balks, but he soon becomes intoxicated by the rage-against-the-system tenets of leader Ellis (Alex Pettyfer), and begins to consider the other gang members — Allie (Hayley Law), Stewart (Oliver Cooper), and Chandler (Jacob Alexander) — as like family. But things soon begin to fall apart as Jack plots a scheme of his own, and their contact man, Mel (Michael Shannon), begins to lose faith in the team.

Echo Boomers — the name refers to the "Millennial" generation, who are often the children of "Baby Boomers" — is structured with wraparound sequences, showing several of the gang members telling their stories from jail, and Lance being interviewed by an author (Lesley Ann Warren). While this is supposed to give the movie an epic perspective, it only serves to thin the action, especially given the silly questions the author asks of her subject. Noisy, jackhammer editing also does not help.

When telling its story, Echo Boomers definitely tries to "echo" movies like Trainspotting, Fight Club, and Spring Breakers, but it lacks their ability to evoke total abandon and release. The scenes of destruction inside the expensive homes are effectively art-directed, and they can be somewhat mesmerizing, but the scenes showing the characters at work just feel routine.

It probably doesn't help that the supposedly charismatic leader played by Pettyfer doesn't come anywhere close to anything like Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden; he mostly sulks and barks orders. However, the screen does spark to life whenever Shannon turns up; his threatening, cunning Mel is truly terrifying.

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