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The Expatriate 2012 | 100 min | R | 2.39:1



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Theatrical release date

 17 May, 2013
 05 April, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Screenshots from Erased Blu-ray

Erased Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, May 15, 2013

After playing second fiddle to Gerard Butler in last month’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” it’s about time star Aaron Eckhart proved himself in the action arena. It’s only a shame “Erased,” as nondescript a title as can be, doesn’t reveal much ingenuity in the stale genre, electing to reheat plot elements and violent encounters viewed in other, better films. Eckhart commits to the material like a professional, but his feverish investment in Arash Amel’s repetitive script and Philipp Stolzl’s pedestrian direction is wasted, with “Erased” struggling to come across exciting when it’s really just painfully average, resembling a sleepy version of “The Bourne Identity.”

A leading expert at a security company in Belgium, American expatriate Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) is content with his new life overseas, trying to keep tabs on teen daughter Amy (Liana Liberato) as she struggles in school. One day, returning to a particularly grueling schedule at work, Ben discovers the company has disappeared, along with his identity. Slipping into survival mode, Ben reveals his past as a C.I.A. assassin to Amy, taking his child on a tour of key individuals tied to his former life. Back in the U.S., Agent Anna Brandt (Olga Kurylenko), once in charge of Ben, is tasked with retrieving the loose cannon, hoping to protect sensitive information floating around that could sink a multinational corporation engaged in serious wrongdoing. Striving to put the pieces together and avoid Anna’s grasp, Ben and Amy hit the road, using friends to help facilitate their haphazard investigation, while avoiding Maitland (Eric Godon), a hitman out to squash the pair before they have a chance to expose the capitalistic evil of head billionaire, Halgate (Garrick Hagon).

It’s actually quite surprising to see how derivative “Erased” is, shot with jittery, anxious camerawork that utilizes a steely blue color palette, resembling an enormous amount of DTV thrillers that clog VOD and rental distributions systems every year. It’s not a completely lazy effort, it just resembles one, working out a plan to attack the same old business concerning the deadly extremes of big business while paying close attention to the secret-agent-on-the-run formula, following Ben as he dodges bullets and engages in a few sequences of close-quarter combat, using his deadly skills to protect his own hide from government stooges and hired help. The big difference here is the inclusion of Amy, with the father-daughter dynamic generating some interesting tension as the pair burn across Belgium while working out their own stunted communication problems emerging from the dissolution of Ben’s marriage and the loss of Amy’s mother. It’s family therapy in full sprint, with “Erased” playing up Amy’s gifts of intelligence, rivaling her dad’s expertise with escape plans (calling in a boyfriend for help) and clue deduction, piecing together the grand design of corruption emerging from government and corporate sources.

“Erased” also benefits from an unusual trigger to the festivities: unreported patents. It seems Ben is sensitive to the issue concerning his state-of-the-art lock protection systems, with his curiosity kicking off a domino effect of murders and cover-ups. “Erased” makes a lot of familiar moves as it unfolds, yet the patent crisis is fairly original. If only the rest of the screenplay held the same interest in specific tests of clerical oversight, testing Ben to even more particular levels of concentration. Instead, slap fights are the name of the game here.

Since it’s Eckhart’s big show, the actor gives a passable performance, liberal with blue steel and sweaty realizations. It’s not exactly a challenging part, but it requires a certain physicality that Eckhart provides, and he positively beams when Ben is required to build homemade plastic explosives in the film’s final act, displaying utter shirtless concentration the rest of the picture should’ve taken more advantage of. As the Short Round of the movie, Liberato makes a fine impression, dialing down teenage squealing to portray a true test of endurance as Amy hopes to match her father in the superspy department. Kurylenko is a drab and uninteresting villain, miscast in a role that demands a stronger aura of internal conflict.

“Erased” doesn’t contain many surprises, and the script’s design of corporate malevolence is deeply flawed, attempting to instigate pushover audience ire to accentuate Ben’s screwball heroism. Sections of the feature manage to entertain, and it’s not exactly a painful sit, but there’s a distinct softball atmosphere to “Erased” that’s keeps the effort forgettable, unless of course you’re a student of the patent application process.

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Olga Kurylenko, Liana Liberato, Garrick Hagon, Neil Napier, Alexander Fehling
Director: Philipp Stölzl

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