Movie Review: Erased

I’ve got quite a few drafts I’m working on right now and I’m churning them out the best I can.

Erased is up next and I watched this because again, I was tired of looking at it on my “Top Picks for Tim” list on Netflix.

Erased, known as The Expatriate outside of the U.S., stars Aaron Eckhart in another film he shouldn’t be in.

Aaron Eckhart, why do you keep doing this to yourself? Eckhart continues to find substandard roles to follow the upper-caliber talent he expressed in The Dark Knight as Harvey Dent, easily his best performance. Another half-baked character and father-daughter relationship that I can add to the list “Times Netflix has wasted my life.”

Ben Logan (Eckhart) works for a technology company in Belgium with his daughter Amy, who until recently never knew him. As always the other parent has died after “getting sick” and now Eckhart has some new obstacles in his way.

A quick sidenote: If I had a $100 for every time I watched a movie where one of the kid’s parents “got sick”, I’d be able to payoff a semester of tuition. It is one of the most overused clichés in film today. Come up with something creative or better yet, just don’t mention it. I don’t need to know what happened to the mother. It’s not important. She’s not here and that’s all that matters. Stop throwing it in there. Assuming that’s the case is fine if you want to but don’t waste screen time talking about dead parents. It’s not building connections with the material or the parties involved. Move on.

I’m sorry, but man does that bug me. Anyway, Logan notices one of the products he’s working on has a patent not registered with the company and when he lets his superior know, everything starts getting weird. However, before I talk about what’s getting weird, let’s have Logan accidentally give his daughter a cookie with peanuts in it and visit a hospital, which will somehow play into the happenings later on or just act as a brief intermission. The next day, he goes to work and the office is empty. Everything is gone. Something that doesn’t make sense in this introductory clause is he decides to bring his daughter to work with him for some reason. He was going to pick up a delivery so I assume it was meant to be an in-and-out thing, but why does she need to be there? Earlier in the film, Logan sees his daughter is struggling with school and he lectures her about the need to keep her grades up but his solution to getting her to improve is to have a “bring child to work” day? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

That’s all the plot you’re going to get from me and you should be grateful I don’t say more. Might put you to bed.

One example of this film’s incoherence is Liana Liberato. Apparently she won a best actress award for a drama flick called Trust and was even praised by critic Roger Ebert, but Liberato wouldn’t be allowed on my high school stage. Nearly everyone mentioned Liberato’s lifeless acting in the Netflix reviews for this and I couldn’t agree more. Her character, Ben’s daughter Amy, is meaningless to the plot and does nothing but whine all the time. At times, it replicates relationship turmoil that can be found in the daytime soap opera of your choosing. It’s uninviting dialogue and far too choppy a script to accomplish much smiles for the audience. Director Philipp Stolzl has no sense of humor, allowing no quick comedy or lightheartedness to take place between the two, which might have eased the awkwardness audiences are sure to feel whenever Liberato tries to put on a serious face. The pitch of the film seems to be in an uncomfortable range because it never flows right. Scene transitions make this story pace like the heartbeat of an adrenaline-filled rabbit, which is counter-productive to establishing surprise or apprehension. Stolzl is in such a hurry to get this film over with that he ignores the opportunity to highlight Eckhart’s narrative voice and doesn’t create any impactful dialogue for Ben and Amy to share.

Yet to say the film is up-tempo would be a lie. Events unfold at a brisk pace but time proceeds in such a lackadaisical fashion. Removed of build-up and without deciphering a theme, Erased leaves you feeling empty.

The concept of having your life erased was a good starting point, but it was downhill from there, especially when they brought Olga Kurylenko into this. I’m unsure how she maintains the title “actress” because she cannot perform. She’s so lifeless in everything I’ve seen her in aside from Centurion, but that was because she was a mute and had to demonstrate some emotion so she wasn’t standing still like a mannequin. She needs to stick to modeling and stop picking up scripts all together. Her character is only an expanse of an overused story cliché.

The whole script was underdeveloped and that left Eckhart shouldering the film. Any entertainment you get from Erased will probably be from Eckhart, but I doubt you’ll get much from it. The plot’s overly symptomatic of other thriller films such as the Bourne trilogy and is comfortable wearing the coats of those before it.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (I, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Erased: 41.

Over the last week, I’ve watched Twisted, The Frozen Ground, Stolen, In the Name of the King and this. Twisted was the best of the group so if you’re looking for some decency, I’d go with that. As for Erased, erase it from your memory.

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