Based on a true story, five college graduates decide the best way to get back at the unfair economy and live the life they’ve always wanted is to steal from Chicago’s richest and give to themselves.
Truth is stranger than fiction and “Echo Boomers” by first-time feature filmmaker Seth Savoy shows us exactly that. In 2013, a group of Chicago Millennials robbed wealthy homes and destroyed property in sickening ways. “Echo Boomers” tells us this particular retaliation and still timely story, reminding us of the disparate differences between the 1% and the rest of us.
Straight-laced and unemployed Lance (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a recent graduate, connects with his Chicago cousin Jack (Gilles Geary) to help get him on his feet. With a background in art, Lance’s options are slim, but Jack rolls out the red carpet to welcome him into his “art business.” Unwittingly pulled into a life of crime, Lance is given the opportunity to bow out, however, much to his surprise, he relishes the life and the message it sends.
We know how the story is going to end because we start there. A writer (Leslie Ann Warren) is interviewing Lance in prison for her new book about this criminal group. Lance recounts his version of the story, taking us back in time to meet the other characters, learn of their past, and how Lance got sucked in to the criminal ring. We watch them skillfully steal and then passionately destroy the homes of the wealthy, making a statement against the 1%. Selling their wares to ring leader Mel (Michael Shannon), it’s a gritty underground environment with an intricate web of planning and design which makes them all rich.
They say crime doesn’t pay or at least in the long-run it doesn’t, and we watch Lance travel an emotional journey with a vivid moral landscape exploding around him. He is quickly and willingly swallowed by this group of misfits who make him feel a part of something and embracing him for his knowledge. He becomes hardened and displays an edginess to his personality; quite the opposite of just a short while ago when this innocent and sweet young man arrived in the Windy City.
“Echo Boomers” is a thrilling and gritty ride into the psyche of Millennials who feel cheated by the system. Scharzenegger deftly portrays Lance as the sweet young man who becomes an angry anarchist with no remorse. Shannon, of course, brings his uniquely gruff and intimidating persona to the screen as Mel using his each and every word to bite harder than a junk yard dog. The supporting cast including Alex Pettyfer as the group’s leader gives us a realistic performance as a jealously complicated and troubled young man. The remainder of the cast finds just the right tone to augment the story, making it a compelling and disturbing one.
3 1/2 Stars
Without question, “Echo Boomers” has an intriguing story at its core. However, writer/director Seth Savoy takes a pedestrian approach to this tale of pissed off, entitled youth who turn to a life of crime when they can’t easily find a job upon graduating college.
This is, an oversimplification but it cuts to one of the main problems with the film, which is a lack of empathy for the protagonists. Needlessly violent and petulant, you may hope these young thieves end up getting caught, as their motivation is self-serving and their actions pointless.
As the outsider who reluctantly enters the fold, Patrick Schwarzenegger gives a bland performance, failing to pull us into what should be a captivating film. Though not the same story, Bart Layton’s 2018 American Animals does a much better job covering the same theme.