Erased was originally titled The Expatriate, and the revision is certainly an improvement. Because there isn’t anything particularly memorable about this movie, it’s as if any recollection you might have disappears once it’s over.
German director Philipp Stolzl appears to have watched several Luc Besson movies because Erased owes a lot to Taken and several “we can make bigger explosions than the Yanks” European films.
Our hero is Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart), a security expert working for the American branch of Halgate Corp. in Antwerp. He’s also a single dad trying to fix his frayed relationship with his teenage daughter, Amy (Liana Liberato). Ben’s also a retired CIA agent who once specialized in black ops. Despite his ability to kick bad guy butt and to blend into crowds and pick locks, Ben doesn’t realize that his job was actually a front for something more dastardly.
Until he shows up and finds his office abandoned. All those direct-deposit paychecks he thought he’d earned never went to the bank. And he’s also being chased by former co-workers who are trying to kill him, including a woman (Olga Kurylenko) who still allegedly works for the Agency.
Erased isn’t as over-the-top as Taken, nor is it as fun. Liam Neeson’s imposing manner and booming baritone voice make it easy for him to play authority figures or larger than life characters. Whether the 60-year-old Irishman could obliterate bad guys in real life is pointless to speculate, but on screen, it comes naturally.
Eckhart specializes in playing alpha males and is certainly a capable actor, but he lacks Neeson’s ability to gravitas villains to death. True, it’s amusing to watch Neeson try to blend into mob scenes, but the 6-foot Eckhart doesn’t fade into the crowd, either.
Erased is infused with a sense of mere competence. The cars sure do crash, and the bombs go boom. But the only novel fact of this thriller is it was shot in Belgium instead of France.
And while Antwerp and Brussels are certainly photogenic cities, they lack Paris’ sense of a teeming underground. There’s no feeling of dread in the neighborhoods the tourists don’t see. As a result, Ben seems to be taking on a B-team of bad guys.
Erased 71 Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato, Olga Kurylenko, Garrick Hagon, Eric Godon, Yassine Fadel, Neil Napier, David Bark-Jones, Alexander Fehling, Nick Alachiotis Director: Philipp Stolzl Rating: Rated R for violence Running time: 100 minutes
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 05/17/2013
Print Headline: Erased