Echo 3 may not start as you imagine. Those looking for big action straight out of the gates will be in for a surprise, as after a brief hint at things to come, we land with a bang on the tamer scene: a big, extravagant wedding.
It’s our first sign that the Echo 3 may not be as “high-octane” as the show’s synopsis makes it out to be, which is just fine. In truth, the best action works well because we get involved with the characters and their relationships, we care about their stories and what happens to them. Unfortunately, that won’t happen with the new Apple TV+ series.
In the show, which comes from The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal, Luke Evans plays Bambi, the brother of the bride at the aforementioned wedding. Meanwhile, Michiel Huisman plays his boyfriend, Prince.
When the bride, a brilliant young scientist named Amber Chesborough, is kidnapped near the Colombian-Venezuelan border, the two men, both active special forces agents, spring into action to rescue her.
The biggest problem with the Echo 3 is how generic everything feels. All the characters are gloomy and brooding, and Bambi and Prince are ordinary military types, just from different backgrounds.
After watching the first five episodes available for review, I feel like I know little about them as individuals, despite hints of past trauma in Bambi’s case. Evans and Huisman are fine on paper, but there’s no sense of genuine bond between them, and the hints of motivation aren’t very appealing.
Of course, there won’t be much room for laughter or levity under the circumstances. But even before Amber’s kidnapping, Huisman’s chemistry with Jessica Ann Collins (Amber) fades a bit, and while Evans is steely and believable in the role, he’s not particularly engaging in the way he’s previously been. .
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The other major issue is the structure of the story, and the fact that over the course of a 10-episode run, this narrative is stretched too thin. The story of a personal recusal mission laced with political intrigue might work well in a tight 100 minute thriller, but over the course of 10 hours? When episode 3 rolls around, you’ll be resisting your lack of progress as the narrative comes to a halt.
The series tries to avoid falling into the stereotypes surrounding its Latin American characters, with a journalist played by Martina Gusmán having her own largely effective plot line, and Amber’s kidnappers providing more personal motivation and backstory than it seems. would normally be awarded on this type of story.
Unfortunately, all this does is slow down the plot once again and highlight the lack of character development given to Prince or Bambi. The series also tries to deal with some weighty political issues; This is by no means a jingoistic tale of US military supremacy.
There is ambition below the surface for the show to do something different and expose the failings of US foreign policy. The story simply never settles enough on a thematic point to land a coup in the way it wants to, rather which features more characters and more ways for Bambi and Prince to be thwarted in their rescue attempts.
The official synopsis for the series places Amber as the main character, and it’s no surprise why: she is, after all, what unites both Bambi and Prince, and her plight is the main driver of the story.
However, when it comes to screen time in the first five episodes, much more attention is paid to Evans and Huisman’s characters. A shame, given that the brighter light is undeniably Collins as Amber.
The first episode finds her trapped in the same box of clichés as her brother and husband, be it in their domestic or work life. A speech she makes about the use of psychedelics in medicine hardly screams innovative medical exploration, more generic scientific jargon.
It’s after Amber’s kidnapping that Collins really finds his groove. Amber’s intelligence, determination and hardened resolve come through in Collins’ performance, as do her vulnerabilities and her innate terror of the life-or-death situation in which she finds herself.
We see Amber’s desperation for freedom, her own internal struggles, and doubts about her relationships, with the dialogue between Amber and her captors being a particular highlight. It’s some excellent work from Collins and hopefully we’ll get to see more in the second half of the season.
As with all original Apple shows, the series is visually stunning and some of the action is heartwarming, with bright spots jumping out of each and every episode.
But even the magnificent Bradley Whitford, who has a small supporting role as Prince’s father, gets lost in the jumble here: his performance lends a welcome burst of energy and levity to the proceedings, but he has very little to do.
If the spark of greatness seen in the later Echo 3 scenes with Amber takes off in the second half of its run, and if it gets a tighter focus, then the series could turn into something special.
As it is, though, this is a hugely uneven first batch of episodes, with far too many story threads, characters lacking in substance, and a surprising deficit of energy, only reminding you of what could have been every time. Collins’ character is really the center of attention. .
The first three episodes of Echo 3 are available now on Apple TV+, with new episodes available weekly. You can sign up for Apple TV+ here.
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