Monday, May 13, 2013

Philipp Stölzl's ERASED gives its cast--and its audience -- a speedy, thrilling workout

If you're looking for a nifty suspense thriller with a intelligently convoluted premise and some great action/fight set pieces, you could do a lot worse than ERASED, the new film from Philipp Stölz (shown below, the Bavarian filmmaker who earlier gave us the fine North Face and the just-OK Young Goethe in Love). An example of one of those internationally created, funded, cast and executed movies that actually works pretty well, Erased was filmed in and around mostly Belgium (with a little Montreal tossed in), using locations that are scenic and photogenic, as well as pleasantly different from the sort we most often get.

The film's original title was The Expatriate, which, once you know the story, proves a much better choice for both its meaning and irony. Undoubtedly the movie's marketing mavens decided that those extra couple of syllables in this fifty-cent word would prove too much for mass audiences to handle. So Erased it is, and erased (or nearly) are our hero and heroine. The former is played by the always reliable Aaron Eckhart (below), as, yes, an expatriate working in Belgium for a company that makes a very interesting product, about which a glitch has just been discovered.

Into Eckhart's care has come his somewhat estranged teen-age daughter, played with grace and grit by Liana Liberato (below, of Trust and Trespass). The movie begins with a gunshot and the trail of corpses the shooter has left in his wake. Something is stolen, then passed from hand to hand.

By the time, shortly thereafter, that father and daughter are running for their lives (below), the audience is piecing together plot strands like crazy, trying to figure out, as is the Eckhart character, what is going on and why.

Into the mix comes the lately-often-seen Olga Kurylenko (below, of Oblivion, To the Wonder, Seven Psychopaths) as a suspect ex-compatriot of Eckhart, and Garrick Hagon (further below, with Eckhart), as a naughty corporate head.

As the body count increases -- it's huge, for the bad guys are relentless and remorseless -- betrayals both planned and accidental occur, while father and daughter alternately spar and join forces to stay alive.

If the finale proves somewhat less exciting and worthwhile than what has come before, this is unfortunately par for the course of most of these international thrillers. On the plus side, I would say that Erased builds up enough good will and excitement during its first hour or so that you won't mind tagging along for the duration.

The movie -- from Radius-TWC and running 104 minutes -- is currently playing the L.A. area at Laemmle's Town Center 5 and will open this Friday, May 17, in Manhattan at the Village East Cinema and perhaps elsewhere. But, as it's been playing VOD since the beginning of April, you'll be able to gain access to it fairly easily.

No comments: