Published May 30, 2013Like virtually all action thrillers featuring Americans in European settings as of late — most of which are incidentally directed by European directors — the lukewarm, serviceable, but unremarkable Erased is concerned, in part, with geopolitics. Coming from Philipp Stölzl (a man accused of making Nazi propaganda, in the form of a Rammstein video), these didactics would seemingly be quite pointed, criticizing corporate influence over American global policy and, in turn, the exploitive nature of globalization.
Early on, this appears to be the case, with ex-CIA operative Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) showing up at his new Belgian security expert post at Halgate Group, only to find that the entire office, and his identity, has been wiped clean. With his vaguely disenfranchised and alienated daughter, Amy (Liana Liberato), in tow, he embarks upon a moderately convoluted journey to determine who hired him, what happened to his colleagues and what the Halgate Group has to do with a sunken ship and a class action law suit.
As competently styled and composed action sequences keep the humdrum plot moving along, which, to be fair, appears to be Stölzl's strong suit, being the man behind North Face, key plot points lead to there being more to the story than the surface mechanics. All of the employees at Logan's division of Halgate were Belgian immigrants and eventually it slips that his involvement with the CIA operative chasing him (Olga Kurylenko) might be indirectly linked to weapons sales to warring African tribes.
But just as each action sequence offers the bare minimum of excitement — framed expertly, but with no real creativity — the plot eventually dives into a dilatory bout of moral righteousness, asserting that government is merely a subsidiary of corporate greed. It's not pointed enough to be taken seriously, much like the storytelling and performances in this exceptionally mediocre thriller.
Just as the story is as cursory as it is unnecessarily complicated, Eckhart's ham-fisted portrayal of a man in a life or death situation is expressed only through barely contained rage. His daughter tags along, occasionally using clever evasion tactics like distracting car alarms in a crowded parking garage, giving a bit of development, in the form of familial bonding, but it's as unconvincing and standard as everything else in Erased.
While watchable and, at times, quite tense, this shelved bit of genre posturing has the distinct misfortune of being a less remarkable and audacious Taken or Unknown, merely following in the footsteps of a successful formula despite not having much of anything to say. (eOne)