Echo 3 is an overlong, drawn out military thriller about a woman captured by rebels in Colombia and the efforts of her husband and brother to get her back. Like Helen of Troy, she was worth starting a war for.
Echo 3 begins by introducing Prince Haas (Michiel Huisman) and Bambi Chesborough (Luke Evans) in a military operation. Soon after learning how close they are as brothers-in-arms, we see Prince marrying Bambi’s sister, Amber Chesborough (Jessica Ann Collins).
Amber and Bambi were raised poor, by an addicted mother (Valerie Mahaffey). Bambi saved Amber from being raped by their mother’s boyfriend. Barely big enough to raise a rifle, he shot the guy dead. Now Amber is a scientist studying psychotropic drugs as addiction treatments. She’s headed for the jungles of Colombia to research plants.
Prince, on the other hand, is a rich kid. His father is played by Bradley Whitford. Why he joined the military is a big question, especially since his dad expects him to run for Senate and then President.
When Amber is leaving on her research trip, Prince puts a military grade GPS tracking device in her bag. The rebels come upon her camp in the jungle, find the GPS device, and decide she’s CIA. They take her to a military prison / cocaine packaging factory just over the border in Venezuela.
That’s the basic situation. The remainder of the series is devoted to figuring out how to get Amber back. Diplomatic channels don’t work, attempts to infiltrate the prison don’t work. Finally Prince, Bambi, and a group of mercenaries launch an all out attack.
A significant subplot in the series is how the CIA has messed up so many countries in South America by interfering in their politics. A Colombian reporter, Violeta Matiz (Martina Gusman), was frequently used to advance that part of the narrative. There was also a CIA agent, Mitch (James Udom), who was close buddies with Prince and Bambi.
Many detours and subplots were included in the story that didn’t need to be there at all. They merely made the series longer. Entire episodes were devoted to shots of Bambi and Prince, rifles ready at their shoulders, sneaking their way through maze-like terrain, or camps, or outdoor markets, or ultimately the prison holding Amber. These scenes were tense and suspenseful, which made the series feel exciting, but they could have been tightened up. They felt like watching someone else play a video game about shooting the enemy.
Echo 3 has plenty of weaknesses, but the suspense is always compelling.
We also spend a lot of time with Amber in captivity. Her character development was all over the place. She went through hell in captivity, but the changes in her character were inconsistent. Her character wobbles led to a letdown of a non-ending.
Claudia Llosa directed two of the ten episodes, the only woman director. The series was created by Mark Boal, who has a proven talent for the military thriller. The series is on Apple TV+. Much of it is Spanish, which is translated only sporadically in the subtitles.