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A Brief Review of "Erased" (2012) / My Priorities Might Be Wrong

I recently watched Erased on Netflix Streaming.  It's a thriller in which Aaron Eckhart plays a former CIA Agent goes on the run with his daughter.

The setup, in short, is that Eckhart works at the proofing / testing branch of a company that produces security equipment by trying to break their technology.  For example, as the story is starting, he discovers that one of their iris-scanners can be defeated by playing a video of close-up footage of eyeballs on a repeating loop.  He reports his findings to his boss and goes home to his daughter.

But the next morning, he finds a terrible surprise at his office: it's completely empty.  All of his coworkers have vanished, all of the equipment is gone, and most terrifying of all, all the records of his life and identity - his emails, bank statements, service agreements, licenses, and so on - have been erased.

Also, there's people trying to kill him, and that's always a pain in the ass.

Thus his adventures begin.  He unravels a global conspiracy involving corporate espionage, arms dealing, government corruption, and a bunch of other pulpy cliches.  It's pretty much exactly what you expect, and that's not a bad thing.

Erased is one of those movies that you should watch either on a lazy Sunday afternoon or on a Thursday evening when you're folding laundry and/or working on a report for work.  It's dumb and repetitive enough that you don't have to pay much attention in order to keep up, but it's paced fast enough to stay interesting and it plays to the spy thriller formula perfectly.  Given that I have a fondness for formulaic thrillers, I'd score this one a little higher, but it's probably a 3 / 5 for most people.

I actually don't have much more to say about it, but there are two reasons why I felt it merited a blog post.

First: Erased suffers because it decided to make its protagonist a former CIA Agent.  I don't understand that decision.  The story was working out just fine when Eckhart was just some random engineer / stooge.  Better than fine, in fact.  For the first half hour or so, it's actually pretty tense because you keep wondering how this unarmed, unassuming guy could survive when put up against a vast conspiracy.

And then he turns into a Bourne knock-off and all that tension disappears.

Why do so many movies nowadays need the heroes to be powerful?  Why does everybody think that's more interesting than having stakes and uncertainty?  "Uh-oh, the audience is starting to fear that our protagonist might be up against a threat.  Give him some kung-fu powers, stat!"


Anyway, the second thing that got to me was this: When Eckhart discovers that his identity has been erased and he's got no money, the movie keeps cutting to his daughter to try to play on the audience's sympathy for his plight.  The reaction is supposed to be, "Oh, no, I hope his daughter is going to be okay!"  And given that I watched this movie with Lulabelle tucked in one arm, you might suspect that the over-protective parenting part of my brain was flaring up.

But you're wrong.  My reaction was, "Oh, no, I hope his Social Security Number is okay!"

Damn, this poor guy got his identity completely erased?  Can you imagine what a pain in the ass it would be to have to prove your identity when every government computer says you don't exist?  What if you're trying to renew your passport or something?  You'd have to fill out all these forms and give all these interviews and even after all that, people would still probably make you jump through a bunch of dumb hoops like, "Get this notarized" and "Make six copies of this" and "We don't accept emails at this office, you have to submit your request in person, and also we're only open from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays because we're fucking incompetent,"

That, my friends, sounds like hell.

His daughter's identity was untouched.  She's fine.  Who gives a shit if somebody's chasing her with a gun?