Echo 3 opens with three people on their knees about to be shot by a gunman. One of them - a woman - looks up at the sky and murmurs a prayer. Immediately, the gun is fired, and the screen turns black. This opening scene suggests that the almighty has left the premises of Echo 3, and characters should not expect divine interventions. A few scenes later, we see some American soldiers in a snow-covered mountain in Afghanistan. The heavenly white surface, coupled with the sight of blood and bullets, gives the impression of hell in heaven. Since god is not listening to anyone, paradise is going under destruction. Therefore, humans have to take care of themselves and protect each other from trouble.
In Echo 3, happiness is temporary, and pain is permanent (a wedding celebration is interrupted by the call of duty, a rescue operation fails just when it's about to be successful, and an attempt to escape is thwarted as soon as things start to look promising for a character). At least, this is what I concluded from the five episodes provided for review. And since humans are in charge of their fates, things never really go according to their plans. Just when one side thinks they are about to win in a situation, the other side does something, changing the state of affairs. What can you do when life is unpredictable?
For a moment, go back to the mentioned snow-covered Afghanistan. The American soldiers are dispatched to this location for a hostage rescue mission. And what is Echo 3 if not an extended hostage rescue mission? Jessica Ann Collins plays Amber, a scientist who gets kidnapped in Colombia. Now it's up to Bambi (Luke Evans), her brother, and Prince (Michiel Huisman), her husband, to save her. Because the government can't do much, and the military is circumscribed by the said government. The towering buildings signify that the people living in them possess great power. Look at their interiors, and you will find monotonous patterns, accentuating that these workers follow a fixed set of rules which restricts their actions. For instance, approval must be taken from several people before executing any order. The agents cannot do anything spontaneous without asking permission from their superiors.
Amber, for the most part, acts like a damsel in distress. She initially jumps into the water for romance and later for her life. We sense a fighter waiting to erupt from within her. But all the action is given to the boys as they stealthily move with their guns. During the wedding, the boys talk about the responsibility of being a man and how they need to take care of everyone. Echo 3 seems to follow that notion, which is why Amber is seen as a helpless hostage while Bambi and Prince are portrayed as tough fighters. But then episode 5 changes gears, and you see a determined Amber. Perhaps, something else in the future could change my impression of a particular character or the whole show itself. Such is the risk of reviewing something incomplete, and because of this, I prefer to pass an opinion based on the entire package. But we live in a time when screeners with merely 3 or 5 episodes have become a norm. I can simply give a sigh of disappointment and wade on.
But I digress. Coming back to Echo 3, it has a basic visual language that simply gets the job done. When Prince and Amber argue with one another, they are placed in different rooms to highlight the distance and dissonance between them. Once Prince comes into Amber's room and sits beside her, they start to love each other. When the action shifts to the jungle, Echo 3 inserts shots of animals. It's basically screaming, "Survival of the fittest (or toughest)!" The visuals are unsubtle, but the series makes up for it through tense sequences. As Bambi and Prince walk down a street holding guns, the camera intently observes them, pushing us to the edge of our seats and raising our excitement. The action scenes follow a standard approach of quick cuts and closeups, but it's well done. We hold our breaths and watch with unblinking eyes as the characters perform their tasks.
Evans gives the best performance among the whole cast. The control he displays during moments of happiness and distress effectively lends credibility to his role as a soldier with a haunted past. Collins is fine as a woman who may or may not be hiding things about herself. She speaks with conviction, making her enemies doubt themselves and forcing them to attack her based on their hunch. Huisman is the weakest link here. His performance is not bad, but he takes extra effort to express himself. The characters in Echo 3 are tormented by failures. They cry and think about a failed mission or a horrible experience. The effect of every event accumulates into them, though they still appear vague and elusive. I can't elaborate more because of spoilers, but one character's closeness to a woman left me puzzled. Echo 3 is strongest near the final few moments of the fifth episode, which makes me optimistic about the future. Only time will tell if Echo 3 will hit the bull's eye or miss its target.
Final Score- [6.5/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
Note: 5 out of 10 episodes are screened for this review.
Premiere Date: November 23, 2022, on Apple TV+
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