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Aaron-Eckhart-in-Erased-aka-The-Expatriate-2012-Movie-Image-600x382I really enjoyed Liam Neeson’s movie “Taken.” The story of an ex-CIA black opps agent who must use his “particular set of skills” to rescue his daughter after she is kidnapped by some very bad men, ignited Neeson’s career as an unlikely action hero and was a good time at the movies.

Apparently the makers of “Erased” thought the same thing. They’ve cast character actor Aaron Eckhart in the Neeson role and added in exotic European backdrops, a daughter, a kidnapping and “a particular set of skills,” to duplicate the formula that made “Taken” a success.

Eckhart is Ben Logan an ex-CIA agent with a specialty in security systems. These days he’s in Brussels working for a multinational corporation, looking forward to getting to know his estranged daughter Amy (Liana Liberato). Unfortunately a regular day at the office turns ugly when Ben goes to work only to find an empty space. He soon discovers that he’s been working for a shell company, and worse someone has erased all records of his existence. It also becomes clear that the same people who terminated his employment would also like to permanently terminate Ben and his daughter. Cue the intrigue.

Fans of “Taken” and even the Jason Bourne movies will feel a sense of déjà vu while watching “Erased.” The movie has strong elements of both, but unfortunately not the fun of the former or the thrills of the later. It’s a competently made but a bit of a flat line as far as excitement goes.

Eckhart tries hard to create nuance in his family man with a dark side character but that’s just one side of Ben. He’s never really believable in the action scenes—particularly the up-close-and-personal fight sequences—and is saddled with too many of the man-with-a-past clichés to make Ben really compelling. He clicks with Liberato, who plays his daughter, but the focus here is the intrigue and action, not the father and daughter story.

“Erased” is Neeson Lite or Still Bourne. It attempts to elevate the story with layers of intrigue, but in the end is undone by some obvious plotting, over-shooting in the action scenes—think Paul Greengrass on speed—and a lack of the intensity that characterized its inspirations. Best saved for VOD.

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