BY JACK RANSOM JANUARY 17, 2024
Let’s be honest, no-one was asking for an Echo focused TV show, and I think even the Mouse realised this when they decided to drop all five episodes in one go, instead of their usual favoured weekly release schedule to keep the discussion going (even then that really hasn’t been favouring their last few D+ outings). However, when the first trailer for this arrived heads certainly turned, as it looked like this would be a far more darker affair, that felt more in line with the Netflix MCU series’.
The 12th MCU set Disney+ series to arrive on the platform. Echo follows Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she comes to face her past, reconnect with her Native American roots and embrace the meaning of family and community if she ever hopes to move forward.
Unfortunately, whilst Echo is still perfectly watchable with a handful of solid brawls and well executed character work, that aforementioned first trailer oversold the grittier aspects of the material. It didn’t however hint at all at the notion of irritating MCU-isms, alas when you watch the show it’s quickly clear that this is nowhere near on the level of maturity, thematic weight and brutality of Daredevil, Jessica Jones etc. Instead opting for a choppy, clearly overstretched mini-story of clashing fantastical beats, whilst still trying to prove it has an edge to wet the appetites of those wanting something more challenging.
There are some unique elements here, it’s just the series simply doesn’t have enough time to fully develop or invest in them. Most notably Maya's heritage and ancestry and the powers she receives from them, which are frequently dropped throughout the episodes with little mystique, before an exposition dump wraps them up in the final episode. Easily the strongest aspect is Maya’s relationship with the Kingpin (easily making episode 4 the highlight), but again, due to the length and patchy structure of the series it still could have been something more.
When it comes to the action the best way to describe it is scraping the TV-MA rating it received. The way the violence is cut around and quickly deterring from any lingering focus on substantial bloody splatter pales in comparison to what we’ve seen in Netflix’s offerings. Don't get me wrong there are some very entertaining sequences here (both Maya’s first assignment for the Kingpin and the roller rink brawl are standouts), however the messy and hastily cut up finale punch up falters and really that’s about the only three action sequences the series boasts.
Performance-wise Alaqua Cox has a strong piercing presence and she delivers in the fight sequences and stunt work. It’s always a pleasure to see Vincent D’Onofrio return to the role of Wilson Fisk and he fairs better here than in Hawkeye. However, he still feels a tad restrained compared to those Daredevil appearances. Speaking of Daredevil, Charlie Cox makes a brief and welcome appearance. The rest of the supporting cast are decent (highlights include Graham Greene and Tantoo Cardinal), but the characters just aren’t particularly interesting or developed outside of surface level.
Echo is a disappointing yet still decent viewing, which could have been something special, especially after that excellent trailer. Cox and D’Onofrio carry, some of the action is gleefully slick and the sign language heavy commitment is admirable and unique. It’s just a shame that this was scrambled together, suffering from an undercooked screenplay and a lack of harsher tone and violent punch.