The Expatriate has one of those movie titles like The Client, The Rainmaker, The Sentinel, The Terminator… it sounds suspiciously like a novel out of John Grisham’s bibliography and lacks imagination. Unfortunately, the same can be said of its screenplay and direction.
Hitting the box office during awards season when movie goers are spoiled for choice will further exacerbate the likelihood of poor reception. The film begins in classic Hollywood custom: a break-in is happening at what appears to be an undisclosed security vault. Mysterious masked man guns down innocent people, peruses hundreds of steel cased units before pulling out a clumsy looking cylinder labelled BV-C 18. Cylinder lands with important looking executive in a limousine parked under street tunnel, and his cell phone rings.
You get the drift.
This latest feature starring Aaron Eckhart (who played Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight) is run-of-the-mill action thriller tinted in cyan hues and urban stunts by virtue of black SUVs, formulaic car explosions and standard sub-machine guns.
Bob Logan is ex-CIA and middle-class expatriate based in Antwerp, Belgium. On the home front, he is a single father with a less than perfect relationship with teenage daughter Amy (Liana Liberato). But in his professional life, Bob is a talented specialist working for Halgate Security Systems. His vocation lies in product testing; ensuring fingerprint and password authentication devices are safe, and impossible to breach.
Upon discovering the patent for an iris scanner is missing, Bob reports his findings for further inspection. Because hey… everybody knows this is serious business with the US military security in jeopardy! Next morning; he arrives at work to find all traces of: Halgate’s operations in Antwerp, business correspondences, his personal identity, bank accounts, basically his entire life history—wiped clean.
So it follows that key action in this film revolves around Bob; exploiting his deadly skill-sets acquired from CIA training. He dives into investigations, causes car accidents, kills bearded baddies, and unravels the conspiracy… with Amy in tow.
At this point; if the plot sounds familiar to Unknown and Taken 2 (both starring Liam Neeson), you are probably right. The Expatriate spots similarities in terms of plot line, character conflict and filming locations. Overall running time of 140 minutes is a snooze-fest for me. But fangirls and fanboys of Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) may fancy watching.
April 18, 2013
ETA: I notice two changes since the time this review was published:
1) Film title has been changed from “The Expatriate” to “Erased”.
2) A revised cut with running time trimmed from 140 to 100 minutes (as indicated on IMDB).
That being considered, I still found the overall treatment and premise of this film a tad dull and lifeless.