Friday, May 17, 2013

Movie with Abe: Erased

Directed by Philipp Stolzl
Released May 17, 2013

A good thriller may start out long before the action and the intrigue begins, or it may not wait until its middle act to shift into high gear. When a mystery needs to be solved and it seems like no answer is possible, there needs to be a path, if long and winding, to some sort of reasonable resolution. If a situation arises where no explanation makes any logical sense, a story is doomed to failure. That is exactly the case with the muddled, senseless events of “Erased,” in which mild-mannered Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) has to contend with his life being seemingly erased, forcing him to go on the run with his daughter.

This kind of premise has existed before, where someone goes into work and finds that his office isn’t actually there, his boss has never heard of him, there are no records of his employment at the company, and, most of all, anyone who could corroborate his story doesn’t appear to exist either. Ben’s discovery of his situation takes all of the predictable turns, as he continues to embarrass himself by assuring those dubious people he is speaking to that he is telling the truth, with all evidence failing to confirm his story. Rather than strengthen his character, all such scenes do is make him seem crazier and more unhinged.

Ben begins as a boring and unexciting character, and revealing that he used to be in the CIA doesn’t help matters much, because, his obvious skills aside, he’s not a very effective central character. His uncooperative and whiny daughter, played by Liana Liberato, is particularly irksome, and Olga Kurylenko’s double-crossing government villain is far from compelling too. The plot inconsistencies and glaring problems with the story weaken what is already an unimpressive effort. Ben’s life needed to be more interesting from the start, or he should have been just a bit cooler in how he managed to go on the run and stay one step ahead of his pursuers. Had Liam Neeson been cast in the lead role, this might have been a stronger film, but, that said, Eckhart is a capable actor and, like other dramatic performers, is entitled to one or two major flops that call into question why he would have selected such a project in the first place. Think of this as a less involving film than last year’s Nicolas Cage starrer “Seeking Justice” of about the same caliber.


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