‘Erased’ seems derivative and generic, but deserves a deeper look

Aaron Eckhart and Liana Liberato are father/daughter in 'Erased'
Aaron Eckhart and Liana Liberato are father/daughter in ‘Erased’

A fan of espionage thriller films will see a lot that is familiar in Erased.  Echoes of Bourne, Taken, Three Days of the Condor, and more can be found during its fast-paced 100 minutes.  An unoriginal story, with generic villains, it would be easy to dismiss this as just another failed thriller.  That would be wrong.

Director Stolzl (North Face) and first-time writer Amel make this a tight, tension-fraught thriller where a man’s moral convictions must be faced in order to save the daughter he loves without reservation.  Aaron Eckhart is “Ben Logan”, an expatriate (the film’s original title was “The Expatriate”) living in Belgium and working as a security consultant for a division of the large arms dealer conglomerate Halgate.  His daughter Amy is now living with him after a long period during which they were estranged.

He works in a nice office and one day arrives there to find everything gone.  Totally gone.  All records of his employer have been obliterated.  So have many of his co-workers, whose bodies he eventually finds in the morgue.  An attempt on his life forces him to go on the run in order to protect himself and his daughter.

"Ben Logan" and his daughter "Amy Logan" looking for any sign that his former employer ever existed
“Ben Logan” and his daughter “Amy Logan” looking for any sign that his former employer ever existed

The already difficult relationship between the two is strained much further when Ben is forced to admit to Amy that he was really a highly-trained assassin working for the CIA before he realized what he was doing was wrong.  The efficient way at which he dispatched the bad guys trying to kill them had told her something wasn’t quite right and now she knows his deep dark secret.  “Anna Brandt” (Kurylenko) works for both the CIA and Halgate and is dispatched to Brussels to help bring Logan in.  She knows him very well as they have a past.  Ben must locate the information Halgate is willing to kill for, in order to have a chance at survival for himself and Amy.  Brandt will use her knowledge of Ben Logan to help deliver him into the arms of Halgate in order to cover up her involvement in the scheme that Ben might unravel.

Aaron Eckhart is an actor with great range.  Having just done a role in Olympus where he did very little in terms of physicality but delivered a very large range of emotions, in Erased he portrays the role of lethal deliverer of death with a cold, calculating manner that is very realistic.  He gave up killing because his conscience would let him kill no more, but to save the life of his daughter, he will stop at nothing.  Liana Liberato was only 15 when this was filmed, but she portrayed the maturity of a teen who lived through a long period of separation from a parent with conviction.  There scenes together ring true.

The action is intense and frequent.  But Ben Logan isn’t a superhero who never gets hit and always wins his fights easily.  He is more of a Timex type, taking a licking but keeps on ticking.  He wins every fight in the end, because he has more to fight for.  That is Erased.  It’s tough enough to be worth the choice to see it.

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