MRR Review: "Erased"

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A 2012 action thriller directed by Philipp Stölzl, starring Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko. When ex-CIA agent Ben Logan (Eckhart) discovers that he and his daughter (Liana Liberato) have been marked for termination as part of a wide-reaching international conspiracy, a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ensues as he tries to outsmart his hunters and uncover the truth.
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MRR Review: "Erased"

-- Rating: R (violence)
Length: 100 minutes
Release Date: May 17, 2013
Directed by: Philipp Stölzl
Genre: Action/Thriller

In "Erased," Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) is a happy expatriate in Belgium who has a job he loves working for a high-tech security company. Even though he loves his new country and job, life is unfortunately not all roses for poor Ben, who has a strained relationship with his daughter, Amy (Liana Liberato), ever since her mother died. He has a lot on his plate, which is why it is really bad news when he wakes up one day to find the company he worked for has vanished, along with his identity.

Ben starts an investigation to see how a company he had been working for every day could simply disappear overnight. He gets a little too close to the truth, prompting the former head of the company, Halgate (Garrick Hagon), to send his best killer, Maitland (Eric Godon), after him. Soon, Ben finds himself in serious danger and must use skills that he learned as a CIA operative years ago in order to survive and keep Amy out of harm's way. Amy realizes that she knows almost nothing about her father once she sees him in action, which only serves to put a bigger wedge between the two. Unfortunately, they don't have time to try to patch things up anymore, because Maitland has Amy kidnapped, leaving Ben to try to locate her before she is killed. He has several allies he can turn to for assistance, but each one can only help him so much before they come under suspicion, so everything Ben does has to be quick in order to keep his friends alive.

Halgate, antsy at Maitland's inability to kill Ben, leaves no stone unturned. He enlists Ben's former flame and old CIA handler, Anna (Olga Kurylenko), to capture him. Ben doesn't know whether he can trust Anna or not, since she seems rather conflicted over her assigned duty. Between his old feelings for Anna, his inability to trust her, and the kidnapping of Amy, poor Ben is having a bad day. It will get worse before it gets better for Ben, who must use his intelligence in addition to his brawn in order to finally defeat Halgate and get his daughter back alive and in one piece.

Over the years, Eckhart has gone from playing mostly dramatic roles to playing a more diverse set of characters. In "The Dark Knight," he actually got to play both hero and villain, starting out as a dashing, principled lawyer of the people as Harvey Dent and then devolving into the villainous Two-Face. In the 2013 thriller "Olympus Has Fallen," he is in a big action film but spends most of his time tied to a pole, away from the action. In "Erased," he finally gets to play the hero, albeit one who has such a checkered past as an assassin that he almost becomes an antihero. Whether the audience thinks of him as hero an antihero, Eckhart gets to flex his action star muscles, finally breaking out of the shadow of costars such as Gerard Butler and proving that he could be the next big action star.

At the start of the film, many viewers who love the action genre will probably see some similarities to the Jason Bourne films. Ben is a man who seems normal on the outside but has some very well-honed skills that only an assassin or someone in a similar job would posses. However, the big difference between Ben and Jason Bourne is that Ben is a father. Bourne never really had to protect anybody but himself, so he didn't have the added paternal instinct kicking in when he was trying to escape from his government foes. That parental instinct to protect a child at all costs is very powerful and helps make Ben much more dangerous than he would be if he only had to protect his own hide.

Cinematographer Kolja Brandt does a fantastic job of showcasing Brussels in the background of all the action and fast-paced chase scenes. The background is always various shades of gray or blue, and it is done beautifully. Brussels isn't exactly a hotbed of action film activity, and this unique locale is a nice change of pace. Brandt has worked with director Philipp Stölzl before on his films "Young Goethe in Love" and "North Face," so getting the director's style down in "Erased" probably came as second nature to Brandt. The camera work is especially great during the action sequences, when jerky motions give the film a point-of-view feel that makes viewers feel as if they are in on the action with Ben and Amy.

Rating: 3 out of 5