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Its underexposed scenic Belgian locations are about all that separates the action thriller Erased from the myriad films from which it, to put it charitably, borrows. Depending on your age and memory, you’ll recognize cinematic DNA from everything from Three Days of the Condor to the Taken and Bourne franchises in this tale of a father and daughter on the run from an evil conspiracy.
The square-jawed Aaron Eckhart plays the hero, Ben Logan, a private security company executive living in Antwerp with his teenage daughter Amy (Liana Liberato). Just a few weeks into the job, he shows up for work only to discover the operation missing and his identity completely erased. When he finds his former co-workers dead in a morgue, it becomes even clearer that nefarious forces are afoot, as he and his daughter are soon targeted by ruthless assassins.
Fortunately, Logan turns out not to be just an uncommonly handsome, mild-mannered business executive so clueless about his peanut-allergic daughter that he nearly kills her with some cookies. Rather, as the nasty scars on his back provide a clue about, he’s a recently “decommissioned” CIA operative with–as Liam Neeson would put it–very particular skills, including the ability to dispatch enemies with his bare hands. When asked by his shocked daughter what he did for his former employee, he cryptically tells her, “I got people in and out of difficult situations.”
That pretty well describes the rest of the film’s plot, as the endlessly resourceful hero outwits and outfights a colorful array of bad guys, in the process uncovering a plot by an evil multi-national corporation (are there any other kind?) to illegally sell arms to African insurgents.
Director Philipp Stolzl (Young Goethe in Love) keeps things moving at a reasonably fast pace, delivering numerous action sequences that are competently staged if never particularly galvanizing. Less felicitous is Arash Amel’s overly complicated screenplay, which features cliché-ridden dialogue and stock characters, including Logan’s former lover and CIA colleague (an underused Olga Kurylenko) who seems to be part of the conspiracy.
Previously unveiled in several countries under the title The Expatriate, the film, now receiving a token theatrical release, will find its biggest audiences on VOD and DVD.
Opens: May 17 (RADiUS-TWC)
Production: E-Motion, Expatriate Films
Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato, Olga Kurylenko, Garrick Hagon, Eric Godon, Yassine Fadel, Neil Napier, David Bark-Jones
Director: Philipp Stolzl
Screenwriter: Arash Amel
Director of photography: Kolja Brandt
Editor: Dominique Fortin
Production designer: Jean-Francois Campeau
Costume designer: Pacaline Chavanne
Composer: Jeff Danna
Rated R, 104 min.
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