Saturday, May 18, 2013


It's become a thing, you know? The "bad father/secret service agent rescues daughter" genre, sparked into (modern) being by Liam Neeson's Taken movies. And so we have Aaron Eckhart in the Neeson role, and Belgium in the France role.

That is, the trouble begins in Antwerp, the other Belgian city you've heard of. Eckhart plays a security engineer who finds weaknesses in devices, ostensibly so the company he's working on can improve their devices.

When he's not being a kickass security dude with mysterious keloidal scars on his back, Eckhart's being a bad father to his daughter (played well by Liana Liberato). The backstory seems to be that Eckhart and his wife split, and then she died, meaning that the daughter had to accompany him to Europe.

How bad a dad is he? Well, on the opening scene's day, he gives her a cookie, not aware that she's allergic to peanuts and they end up spending the night in the hospital. Next day, when he goes into work, the office is gone. When he goes to track down what happened, he finds he's been erased!

Well, not really. He finds out he wasn't really working for who he thought he was (like a spy guy is gonna research a company that hires him? c'mon, they're a trusting lot) but who, how and why?

I gotta be honest: I saw this movie Tuesday and I've almost completely forgotten it by now. I mean, it's an action/thriller type movie, and pretty good at it. Eckhart is no Neeson (wait, what?) but he gets the job done.

The father/daughter stuff starts out excellent. Liberato pulls off being pissed, and a teenager and a girl (yeesh) but also likable. Usually, these kinds of things are pretty awful—the first Taken wasn't the worst of the genre, but even so, Maggie Grace's character is pretty insufferable. Erased has a kind of troubled warmth. People are upset, we don't know why, but it isn't histrionic.

By the end, though, it starts to feel a little Lifetime-y. Inappropriate, even. You're on the verge of being murdered, repeatedly. Heart-to-hearts (not done in a kind of '80s action style, but sincerely) are hard to pull off without both seeming treacly, contrived and killing the momentum.

I think fleeing the police and hordes of mysterious thugs would be a bonding enough experience that you'd put the other stuff aside till it was over. And even then, you might be assuaged by laying down your lives for each other to need any lengthy emotional expositions.

Just sayin'.

Anyway, the hate on this movie (22/37% RT) seems outsized. It's really not bad. I guess it's on a par with Taken 2, though, which was probably a bit better. Note that Arnold Schwarzenegger's "classic" Commando scores 65/69% on RT which says something about something.

Plot don't make a lick of sense. Predictably, the villain is an Evil Corporation With A Name Suspiciously Close To Halliburton. But since they get what they want almost right off the bat, the whole erasure thing (which involves mass murder) seems gratuitous.

Also, the MacGuffin is documents. You know, photos, typed things, etc. Apparently there are no Kinko's in Belgium.

We didn't dislike it, and if you're an Aaron Eckhart (or Liana Liberato) fan, well, why not, right? Olga Kurylenko (from back when we did cheesecake here, remember?) is also in this, acting well enough but looking kinda rough for a 33 year old. (So, if you're an Olga fan, maybe just watch Quantum of Solace again or something.)

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