I spotted the trailer for the film Erased on, I believe, the video release of Solomon Kane. It had me intrigued…
Not bad, right?
So I looked up the film and it was (and still is as of this writing) available on Netflix for instant viewing so I loaded her up and…
Let’s face it, one shouldn’t expect much from films that are, as far as I know, not formally released to U.S. theaters and arrive via direct to home video formats. While you may find overlooked gems here and there, the majority of such films are usually features movie studios have looked at and don’t have all that much faith in. Rather than invest (and lose) more money on the work via advertisements for a theatrical run, studios are content with collecting what they can through the home market and moving on to their next project(s).
At best, Erased is a decent -if completely unexceptional- low budget thriller in the Bourne mold. The reliable Aaron Eckhart plays Ben Logan, an ex-pat living in Belgium and working for a high tech security firm. He lives there with his daughter Amy (Liana Liberato, who turns in a good performance as well) who, we find, has only recently moved in with him. Ben left his wife for mysterious reasons which are never entirely explained, though it might have been due in part to his original work and/or a relationship with fellow CIA agent Anna Brandt (Olga Kurylenko). All this is hinted more than outright stated, not that it matters all that much. After Amy’s mother gets sick and dies (more story material that happens off-screen), Ben takes her in but there is friction between them as Amy isn’t all that happy about living in this foreign land and clearly holds her father responsible for the dissolution of the marriage.
Anyway, one day Ben finishes one of his main projects in the company and goes to Amy’s school to pick her up. He’s a little late (something she also doesn’t appreciate) and finds his daughter is hungry. Ben offers her some cookies he’s carrying with him but it turns out there are peanuts in them and Amy is allergic. Off to the hospital they go.
Amy spends the night there along with Ben and, in the morning, they head out. Ben stops at his work for a moment to pick up a package he expected to arrive, but when he gets there the movie’s singular best sequence occurs (you can see it on the trailer): The entire floor is completely empty of everything. All the desks, computers, folders, etc. etc. are gone. Ben can’t understand and goes to the parent company. They have no record of him having ever worked for them. What happened to his company? What happened to his friends and co-workers? What is going on?!
Sadly, what follows from this point is pretty standard stuff. Ben’s company and its staff have been eliminated, and the only reason Ben and Amy are still alive is because they were at the hospital rather than their home the night all the skullduggery went down. Ben is forced to sort through the clues to find what exactly is going on, all while being pursued by his possible ex-lover Brandt. Her allegiances are, until the movie’s last act, never entirely clear.
As I describe the film, it sounds far better than what is ultimately presented. While the “agency-decides-to-eliminate-its-operatives-but-one-gets-away” has been done many times before, it can work well. With Erased, unfortunately, the end result are simply too damned bland. If you find the above plot description intriguing, however, and would like to see a film along these lines, my recommendation is to forget Erased and instead look up the Robert Redford/Faye Dunaway vehicle Three Days of the Condor. Far better film featuring many of the same elements.