ECCO is a confusing Seattle-set spy thriller
by Justin Moore
It’s always cool to see a movie that was filmed close to where you live. The new Seattle-set thriller ECCO was shot on location throughout Washington. It was hard to recognize some of the locations in the movie but I found some spots I recognized like the Fishermen’s Terminal in the Port of Seattle. The film is written and directed by Ben Medina, who was born in Washington and attended University of Washington. Lathrop Walker (who also attended University of Washington) plays Michael, a former assassin living a new life in the shadows who must come out of hiding to discover the origins of his beginnings. People he is close to are being killed and he must ask himself who he really is.
Confusing is one word to describe ECCO. The film opens up with Michael aboard a plane acting as an assassin who shoots everyone on the private jet and then parachuting off the jet. The film then jumps to Michael working on a fishing ship playing cards with the crewmen. The film gives little explanation to the opening sequence and where Michael is at in his life right now. What makes this film so confusing is that there are constant flashbacks that appear abruptly. Two women are introduced in the film. One is Abby (Tabitha Bastien) and the other is Aubrey (Helena Grace Donald). Both women ask Michael the same question: Who are you? I couldn’t even answer that question for most of the film. Scenes for both Abby and Aubrey play a significant role in Michael’s life, but the way the scenes are handled makes it confusing as to what relationship came first. Aubrey is intrigued by Michael and proceeds to take many photos of him on a subway and the two become lovers. Michael’s flashbacks are also shared with Abby, who is his pregnant wife. The main question I had for a good majority of the film was who did Michael love first?
As the film progresses you get a better understanding of who Michael is, why he is being hunted, and the relationships he had with both women. The answers to Michael’s life came way too late in the movie though, which makes for a frustrating watch at times. Towards the end of the film, there are less flashbacks which makes the film easier to watch but the non-linear narrative doesn’t set up future scenes very well.
Walker did a fine job acting as Michael, who is a man of mystery and often keeps things to himself. Other characters in the film from his two lovers, crewmen, other assassins, and targets for Michael all act very stiff. There isn’t much emotion flowing throughout the movie, which could have worked from the women in the film. The severe lack of personality from certain characters makes the relationships in the film not strong enough for one to care about.
I was impressed with how Medina handled his scenes in the movie. In the first half of the film, Michael gets involved in a fight and the limited editing makes it the most intense scene of the film. Medina takes the vibrant setting of Seattle, Port Townsend and Skagit Valley and creates a bleak setting perfect for a spy thriller.
ECCO offered a confusing narrative that requires a lot of patience. The film felt familiar to other stories but the constant shifts from past to present makes it a difficult film to follow at times. Medina is a talented director though with some of his shots and how he handles action scenes, but the non-linear script is what makes the film confusing to watch.