Eckhart tries to pull a Neeson.
Fancy European locations. Check. Heavy duty action scenes. Check. Estranged teenage daughter. Check. Liam Neeson. Not available, we got Aaron Eckhart instead.
This is maybe what director Philipp Stölzl and writer Arash Amel’s conversation sounded like when they decided to make Erased (or The Expatriate).
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato and Olga Kurylenko, Erased is an action-thriller that borrows heavily from previous espionage films like Enemy of the State, The Bourne series, Taken and Unknown. Although well-executed, the film fails to engage and entertain on the same level as others of its genre, primarily because of the lacklustre, dreary thrill and action sequences.
Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) works for a mysterious company that develops security systems and lives with his recently-moved-in estranged daughter Amy (Liana Liberato) with whom he’s struggling to bond. Things take a turn for the worst when Ben walks into his office one day and finds out that it has suddenly disappeared without a trace, and that his identity, emails and bank account have been completely erased. He soon discovers that he and his daughter are embroiled in an international conspiracy and are now targets for termination. The plot unravels over the next 1 hour 30 minutes as the father-daughter duo go through mysterious files, lock codes, chases, gun fights and of course the quiet moments in between where they get a chance to better understand each other and improve their relationship.
Aaron Eckhart does an above-average job of playing the closet spy with skills. He looks the part and is able to bring some amount of credibility to his character. But in terms of impact and energy on screen, he’s not at par with his peers in similar roles namely Liam Neeson, Matt Damon or Will Smith. This is clearly not his forte and not one his better roles.
Former Bond girl (seems like she’s stuck with the tag) Olga Kurylenko comes across as a hopeless miscast as a CIA executive. Though she tries her best to sincerely portray the role of a corporate sell-out with a conscience, there’s not enough meat to her character’s background as a former lover to Ben Logan.
She looks disturbed and confused most times (which makes sense when you take a supermodel and put her in a pantsuit, working with files and folders). It seems her indolent acting style is not really suited for such a role.
Liana Liberato does a fine job of portraying teenage woes combined with the tension and complexity of the situation her character is in. She provides adequate support to Eckhart and plays a crucial role in taking the plot forward.
The action in this film (one of the most crucial aspects in a spy thriller genre) is not edge-of-the-seat material. The sequences lack speed and thrill and fail to engage or impress. The locations - Brussels and Antwerp are used well to reflect the alienated situation of its protagonists.
Erased is a film primarily for Aaron Eckhart fans. Apart from that, it offers nothing new in terms of plot and performance. The ending is predictable and if you’re an avid spy thriller fan, this one will just end up giving you a sense of déjà vu. Regular wine in an old bottle.