Film review: ‘Erased’ has better actors than it deserves
Director: Philipp Stolzl
Stars: Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato
2 (out of 5) Globes
The thriller “Erased” hails from four, mostly European countries, but it’s even more patched together than that. It begins with a Hitchcockian mistaken-man premise before morphing, by turns, into a “Bourne” film, “True Lies,” “Taken,” “Paycheck” (with which it shares Aaron Eckhart) and “24,” with some social consciousness/corporation bashing from “The Constant Gardener.” It’s a Frankenstein monster, built in Europe from the spare parts of proven (or in the case of “Paycheck,” unproven) successes, and intended to be sold as an American knockoff. The only thing they got wrong is it has personality.
Eckhart stars as Ben Logan, a nice ex-CIA drone on a job in Belgium as a security expert. While saddled with his estranged daughter (Liana Liberato, acclaimed for her performance in the David Schwimmer-directed ‘net drama “Trust”), Ben discovers that his office has been mysterious cleaned out. Worse, his identity has been excised from all systems. Worse still, men are trying to kill him. For a nice guy dad, even one with a CIA past, Ben proves weirdly competent at dispatching baddies, driving cars and even going Jack Bauer on a guy with some good old fashioned bathtub waterboarding.
In any other film, Liberato’s daughter would be a liability. She still is, to an extent: she’s there so Ben has someone to care for, to humanize him, as well as so he has someone there to whom to explain plot twists. Ben’s connections to a powerful corporation that was selling guns to both sides of a conflict in Africa emerges as gradually as his ass-kicking superpowers.
But what’s actually of interest is Liberato’s realization that she knows her father even less than she assumed. Eckhart is no stranger to acting in projects fathoms beneath his talents, but he never lets himself coast. He brings an intensity to his role that makes him dangerous in the wrong way, especially when viewed through the eyes of a daughter who thought he was a different kind of terrible parent. “I killed people,” he confesses, before (and after) killing more, expressing a shame at the kind of man he is when seen through the eyes of another.
“Erased” is often inane, though only in a bad way when it’s wasting Olga Kurylenko as a generic CIA heavy tracking Ben from afar, and with an ending that sells out in the most anticlimactic way imaginable. Both Eckhart and Liberato deserve better, and deliver better than they were asked.