Echo Boomers

★★★

A lot of us are facing financial stressors these days. Most of us wouldn’t resort to crime in order to alleviate such issues nor would we blame wealthier individuals for our plight. (Though maybe we should to some extent on the latter count?) “Echo Boomers,” available in select theaters and on VOD beginning Fri. Nov. 13, concerns a group of young people who aggressively engage in both behaviors by stealing from the rich and giving to themselves.

Patrick Schwarzenegger (Arnie’s eldest son) stars as Lance, a recent college graduate with no job prospects. Lance’s cousin, Jack (Gilles Geary), hails him from Dixie to Chicago with the promise of work. Turns out Jack and his friends – Ellis (Alex Pettyfer, “Magic Mike”), Allie (Hayley Law), Stewart (Oliver Cooper of “Project X” and “Californication”) and Chandler (Jacob Alexander) – are getting addresses of opulent homes from a fence named Mel (incomparable character actor Michael Shannon) and in turn rob and vandalize the joints. The crew members vandalize for various reasons – they grew up in the foster care system, they were abused and/or ignored by their parents, they were bullied as children, they served in combat and now have PTSD. Lance is brought into the fold as he was an Art History major and has insight into what paintings are worth stealing as opposed to destroying and how much they’d fetch on the open market.

There’s a decent amount to like here – much of it stems from the cast. I think this is the best I’ve seen Schwarzenegger from a fairly limited sample size. He’s not as naturally charismatic as his father, but he could prove to be an even better actor in time. He’s given opportunities to emote and he sells them. Geary is a performer I’d never seen before, but he brings a squirrelly energy to his character that should snag him certain sorts of roles moving forward. Pettyfer’s a good-looking cat and has presence, which makes me glad he’s being given another bite at the apple after being labelled as difficult during his stint as an “It Boy” in the early 2010s. He’s sterner and more villainous here than I’m used to seeing him and yet he’s convincingly intimidating. Shannon could do his part in his sleep. He’s entertaining doing what he’s given – I just wish there were more of it. I suspect Shannon’s here as a favor and only did a couple days on set.

“Echo Boomers” is the feature directorial debut of Seth Savoy who co-wrote alongside Kevin Bernhardt and Jason Miller. It’s a competently-made movie and often entertaining enough, but it’s hard to shake the feeling of been there, done that only better elsewhere. It’s also often difficult to empathize with these particular millennials. They’re greedy and all too happy to screw one another over. Had they pulled a Robin Hood and distributed their ill-gotten gains to worthwhile charities their actions still would’ve been wrong, but I would’ve had more respect and sympathy for them. Instead the funds get guzzled down their gullets, snorted up their nostrils or allocated towards luxury vehicles. At the end of the day, they’re worse than the tenets and people they’re flipping the bird to … and the filmmakers don’t seem as concerned about this as they probably could’ve or should’ve been.

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