Erased (2012) / Thriller-Action
aka The Expatriate

MPAA rated: R for violence
Length: 95 min.

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Liana Liberato, Olga Kurylenko, Debbie Wong, Neil Napier
Director: Philipp Stolzl
Screenplay: Arash Amel
Review published December 22, 2012

The Expatriate 2012The Expatriate is a competent but highly generic thriller that will likely please only hardcore spy-thriller enthusiasts or those who are particularly enamored of Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles, The Dark Knight). Eckhart plays Ben Logan, a former CIA agent who has recently relocated to Belgium, now working for a corporation as a consultant utilizing his expertise in security systems. Logan is recently joined by his mostly estranged teenage daughter Amy (Liberato, Trespass), recovering after the loss of her mother and adjusting to being uprooted from her life in the States to several weeks in Belgium.

Things take a nasty turn when Logan walks into his office one morning to find that everyone is gone and the entire floor is empty. He visits the company headquarters and finds they have no knowledge of the place's existence and think Logan is entirely off his rocker. Meanwhile, someone is out there trying to kill him. With no one to believe them, out on the run without an ally in sight, Logan has to get to the bottom of things himself (with his resourceful daughter) before he ends up permanently terminated.

The direction by Philipp Stolzl (North Face, Young Goethe in Love) is fine, though he does crib quite a bit from traditional Hollywood thrillers, to the point where only the Belgian locale work differentiates it from countless others in the genre. Some may find the gist of the storyline is similar to the Taken, with Liam Neeson, another thriller from an ex-spy/assassin who must utilize his training in order to stay alive and save a loved one from the bad guys. An ambiguous twist is thrown in in the form of a former CIA colleague (and lover) named Anna Brandt (Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace) who is working in cahoots with the heavies to either nab Logan or help him.

The film works best when focusing on the strained relationship between the father and daughter, especially as he tries to build up her trust in him despite all of the secrets coming out about the past he's tried desperately to hide. Liberato does a commendable job as the daughter, playing the character with both the innocence and annoyance of most petulant and rebellious teenagers, but not to the point of making the character dumb or unsympathetic.

Unfortunately, the actors are placed smack-dab in the middle of a routine script, as well as direction that is just enough to hold everything together adequately without ever developing a style that is uniquely Stolzl's. While the film does maintain a modicum of interest throughout (thanks to the father-daughter dynamic), the end result is a film that is just too familiar to get excited about and too indistinguishable from a dozen other recent thrillers to remember long after having seen it.
Qwipster's rating:

©2012 Vince Leo