Aaron Eckhardt solidified his rep as an outstanding actor in 2008’s The Dark Knight playing Harvey “Two-Face” Dent. I believe in Eckhardt then and still do today. Unfortunately I just do not think he has found another really juicy Hollywood role that he can sink his teeth into since playing Gotham City’s coin flipping maniac. This long dormant project finally reached our collective DVR’s as an On Demand film with no big theatrical release here in the States. However it is still a very good watch for die hard action fans especially fond of beautiful European settings. I still think that Eckhardt has the potential of being a bigger on-screen action hero especially after seeing him playing a disavowed CIA Agent in Erased. Sure he is no Ethan Hunt, Jason Bourne or John McClane but did you really ever think that the three actors that played those parts were cut out to be action stars?Make no mistake that this straight to DVD spy thriller is one of the best that I have seen in some time. While some have the attitude that only crappy movies do not make it into theaters, I assure you that that is a total fallacy. Sometimes it is just not the right time for a big studio to invest in a movie or its star. In my opinion Erased held up its end of the bargain as being a great deal of fun. I would say that my favorite action movie from the past few years was Salt with Angelina Jolie. While yes she is a hell of a lot of fun to drool over, I really thought that it was an amazing spy flick with killer action. Originally the role of Salt was supposed to be played by a male lead but that’s a whole other article. Erased finds our hero Ben Logan as a former CIA agent that used to do the companies dirty work as needed but has put that life behind him. After losing his wife, he and his daughter Amy (the wonderful young actress Liana Liberato) have moved overseas to Belgium where he works for an ominous corporation that deals with corporate security in the Brussels-Antwerp area. Ben seems to be happy at his new job and his CIA assassin days are now a thing of the past. The relationship between father and daughter is strained as Ben worked in a world of shadows that his daughter knew very little about. On top of that she is adjusting to her mother’s recent death and sticking out like a sore thumb in a new foreign land. It is tough enough being a teenager but Amy, a talented photographer is just trying to get through the day in a new school and a new country with new customs. She has become introverted and steals time calling her Grandfather in the States for hours feeling terribly homesick. Ben is trying to be Super-Dad but they are just not clicking but trying desperately to make things work.On a regular day at the office Ben shows off some new (and very cool) corporate espionage gadgets that impress the higher ups. You just get the feeling that Logan is getting his life back in order; enjoying his work, the people and the laid back pace of the European life. Ben is late for Amy’s photography exhibition where she wins first prize and 250 Euros solidifying his rep as a definite runner-up for Father of the Year. While apologizing to his morose daughter he gives her something to eat that activates her peanut allergy forcing them to rush to the ER. Clearly Ben is not used to being a full-time Dad and what comes with the territory.Upon being discharged he and Amy go to his office and the entire floor is empty. It is as if the company never existed and Ben frantically calls around finding that all numbers have been disconnected. When he visits the corporate headquarters of the Halgate Group, the top brass tell him that they have no idea who he is nor has he ever worked for their subsidiary that provides private security solutions. Amy watches as her Dad pleads with the head of the parent company as he is told that no records of him working for Halgate exist. They are adamant in telling him that he was working for a subsidiary that doesn’t exist, testing products they do not make and reporting to an officer whom they have never heard of. Whoa, major trouble and not exactly the morning Ben planned. From then on Ben’s past begins to slowly creep up on him as the dominos begin to fall and the plot unravels. I was absolutely enthralled with the storyline and could not believe that the film did not make it into theaters. Once Ben and Amy are on the run, the movie moves at a frantic pace as the former spook’s training kicks in. By that I mean that Agent Logan starts to kick some serious ass Jason Bourne style. The fight sequences are well orchestrated and some of the best I have seen in recent memory. Even better are the car chases. As the CIA gets wind of their former asset, Ben’s ex-girlfriend Anna Brandt (the stunning Bond girl Olga Kurylenko from Quantum of Solace) is assigned to bring Logan in dead or alive–but preferably dead.The backdrops of the film are beautiful and the acting, particularly the aforementioned Liberato are terrific. It is a tough sell to combine an action movie with a father-daughter reconnection film but Arash Amel’s smart script has mashed the two genres with terrific results. Overtures of a film like Taken are there but it is actually more interesting as Amy and Ben team-up depending on each other for survival. His daughter’s street smarts kick in and you can see that he is beaming with pride of the young woman before him. She is not the little girl he used to know and the situation brings them closer than ever before. The speedy pace of the film and urgency that prevails works excellently under the direction of Philipp Stolzl. While good does triumph over evil in the end, the trip is worth the price of admission.
Original Poster Second “Erased” Version