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Erased Blu-ray Review

Erased (2013) movie poster Erased

Theatrical Release: May 17, 2013 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Philipp Stölzl / Writer: Arash Amel

Cast: Aaron Eckhart (Ben Logan), Liana Liberato (Amy Logan), Olga Kurylenko (Anna Brandt), Garrick Hagon (James Halgate III), Eric Godon (Maitland), Yassine Fadel (Nabil), Neil Napier (Derek Kohler), David Bark-Jones (Marty Braemer), Alexander Fehling (Floyd Remi), Nick Alachiotis (Walter Zmet), Ronnie Commissaris (Karl Van Doorn), Fabrice Boutique (Karim), Debbie Wong (Mei Ling), Ron White (Dick Rhodes), Kateljne Verbeke (Sophie Peters), Alexandre von Sivers (Hans Pieters), Hassaba Halabi (Fatima)

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Aaron Eckhart has been on Hollywood's radars since the late 1990s. He rose the ranks with supporting roles in movies like Erin Brockovich, Nurse Betty, and The Pledge. His performance in the hit 2006 indie Thank You for Smoking drew notice and Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations. It also led to him landing the role of politician Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight,
a pivotal part in one of the most widely attended films in history. You'd think that would be enough to make him a star, but since that 2008 blockbuster, Eckhart has taken top billing in movies no one sees (Meet Bill, Towelhead) and in movies perceived to be lacking in star power, like Battle: Los Angeles when he's not playing second fiddle to actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Nicole Kidman. Erased, the closest thing to an "Aaron Eckhart vehicle" we've yet to see, barely drew theatrical release as part of the multi-platform strategy of The Weinstein Company's niche RADiUS-TWC label.

Erased made a bit of a splash in premium Video On Demand in April, cracking iTunes' Top 10 charts. But its theatrical release a month later was the blink-and-miss variety; its 51-theater engagement not even being significant enough for Weinstein to report a gross. Last week, this action thriller hit DVD and Blu-ray looking like a direct-to-video production and only barely not being one.

Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) finds himself erased in Belgium in the thriller "Erased."

Eckhart plays Ben Logan, an expatriate widower who isn't doing the greatest job of raising teenage daughter Amy (Liana Liberato) on his own in Antwerp, Belgium. Work demands much of Ben's time. He works with the product development team of a giant corporation's subsidiary, looking for vulnerabilities in military-grade private security devices. Or so he thinks. One day, Ben shows up as usual at his secure workplace only to find it completely abandoned with nary a trace. His cell phone's e-mails erased and his bank accounts emptied, Ben turns to parent company Halgate Group only to discover they have no record of his employment or of the division where he claims to have worked for the past couple of months.

Ben and Amy soon find themselves on the run from stone cold assassins. Dad is better suited to this predicament than expected. He reluctantly reveals to his daughter that he is a former CIA agent and experienced kill squad member. Some light-footed research reveals a far-reaching conspiracy. Turns out Ben worked for a shell company staffed by disposable undocumented immigrants. The father and daughter are viewed as loose ends to Halgate's highest-ups as they attempt to cover up the incriminating specifics of a ship sinking being pursued in a small time lawsuit.

Ben tries to find some leverage, negotiating with a former colleague (Olga Kurylenko) who has some semblance of a conscience. The film unfolds with much running, hiding, shooting, and phone calls plus a number of spy movie conventions like a cell phone hand delivery.

The whole predicament the Logans find themselves gives Amy (Liana Liberato) a chance to question her father's candor. On the side of the conspiracy but clinging to some sympathy is Ben's former colleague Anna Brandt (Olga Kurylenko).

This is the English language feature debut of German director Philipp Stölzl, whose credits are likely unknown to you with the possible exception of some millennial music videos for the likes of Madonna and Evanescence. He doesn't seem terribly gifted or graceful in the helm, as the film shows flashes of sharp suspense thriller but is more often reduced to mindless, artless B-movie dreck.
British-Iranian screenwriter Arash Amel makes his debut here and is somehow following this film with the biopic Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly that seems bound at least for the coming Golden Globes. Amel is also attached to I Am Legend 2, a sequel that seems doubtful to be made without the participation of an uninterested Will Smith.

Erased does not bode well for either of those upcoming projects, nor Stölzl's period drama The Physician. Nor does it paint an encouraging picture of Aaron Eckhart's job offers or selection process. Every actor given the chance ought to try their hand at action movie star at least once, but Eckhart has repeatedly gravitated to the genre's most rudimentary entries. Should you think his next effort, the graphic novel-spawned I, Frankenstein, might be an improvement, notice that it's a Lionsgate release scheduled to open in January, a less than promising combination.

Erased Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.35:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Erased is treated to a flawless 2.35:1 Blu-ray transfer. The splendid video showcases perfect sharpness and detail. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is even more potent, its glass-rattling bass and immersive design packing quite the punch. The few bits of foreign dialogue are translated by burned-in subtitle.

Philipp Stölzl directs the famous parking garage scene in "Erased: Behind the Scenes."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray includes just a single bonus feature: a standard, slick, short EPK-type behind-the-scenes featurette (4:56, SD).
It gathers B-roll and some thoughts from the director and three lead actors about their action stunts, characters, and so on. Little light is shed.

The disc opens with HD trailers for Pusher and Solomon Kane, neither of which is accessible by menu. Erased's own trailer is unwisely excluded.

Also showing less than terrific judgment, the Blu-ray fails to support bookmarks or resume playback, an ongoing blind spot for Weinstein Company Blu-rays.

The menu plays a standard montage of clips filling as much of the screen as the movie itself. No inserts, slipcover, or reverse artwork spice up the basic packaging.

Two-Face returns as Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) finds his workplace altogether vanished, or "erased" if you prefer.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There are moments early in Erased where you think and hope it could sustain an intriguing premise and end up a decent little European thriller. Alas, it ends up a not very engaging B-movie whose well-intentioned efforts to ground the action in a father-daughter relationship ring false. This is far from the worst movie of its kind, but it fails to excite with its reliance on such tropes as corporate conspiracy and an ex-CIA agent.

The Blu-ray sports terrific picture and sound, but that's about it. It's the kind of disc you shouldn't and wouldn't give any thought to buying for more than around $5, though action junkies may consider it a worthwhile cheap rental.

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Reviewed July 23, 2013.



Text copyright 2013 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 RADIUS-TWC, e-MOTION, Transfilm Intl., Informant Media, Smash Media, Expatriate, uFUND/uFILM,
The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.