Today marks the beginning of a recurring segment I’ve christened the Weekend Trailer Roundup. Every weekend I’ll head over to the IMDB Trailer Gallery and sample the three newest trailers in their rotation, then give everyone at home the rundown on whether the film in question is worthy of a $10 ticket or if it’s even a well put-together trailer.
Up first this weekend: Erased, starring Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko. Directed by Philipp Stölzi.
Twenty seconds in, the trailer for Erased actually shows a spark of potential. Cyber-security is still a relatively new idea in both the real world and on the big screen, so although Aaron Eckhart is playing his usual handsome and well-to-do suburban dad, his abilities as a technological security whiz imply that Erased might be something a little new and a little different. But afterward Eckhart argues with his daughter over something as played out as a hidden report card (clumsily establishing him as the old-school, out-of-touch dad who can’t relate to this new generation of youngsters) and the trailer immediately starts to decline in quality.
It only takes another handful of seconds for that decline to become a free fall. Eckhart takes his daughter to pick up a nondescript delivery from his office, only to find the whole floor’s been stripped bare. This is supposed to be the jaw-dropping twist, complete with a variation on the loud boom/fade to black combo made popular in the trailers for Inception, yet there’s nothing onscreen but a stone-faced man looking at a lot of empty office space. His daughter even asks, “are we on the right floor?” Take away the sound effects and jumpy editing and it would, in fact, appear incredibly likely that they are just on the wrong floor. But no, it’s revealed that Eckhart’s employers have no record of him ever working there, and that an empty floor of offices is actually part of some massive government cover-up. From here, the trailer sloughs through almost two minutes of marginally interesting action and tersely spoken one-liners that establish every character as a walking cliche and nothing more. All the big-government bureaucrats are completely soulless, willing to murder countless innocents to protect their own vague interests, and Eckhart is both a caring, misunderstood father and some kind of all-powerful super-spy.
What Erased looks is like an attempt to ape the success of the Taken franchise. Towards the end of the trailer (which succeeds in giving away the vast majority of the plot), Eckhart’s daughter is kidnapped by his mysterious adversaries, and the whole thing ends with him growling death threats into a cellphone with the kidnappers on the other line. Kidnapping and gravelly-voiced phone messages- easily the two most memorable aspects of Taken. Erased, however, seems to lack the dash of camp that Neeson’s film’s have, leaving nothing but unrelenting grit and lifelessness. Taken is a serious action movie, but Neeson is just so ridiculously huge and intimidating and all-powerful that the film is more a throwback to the action hero vehicles of the eighties than a modern-day thriller. There’s nothing larger-than-life about Eckhart here, and in parts it feels like he was added solely to boost the marketability of a forgettable film.
Skip this one and rent 2011’s Unknown, a similar erased-identity thriller with Liam Neeson in the starring role, and which is likely to be the name-brand alternative to this store-brand action flick.
Coming up tomorrow: Planes, which will surely make my stomach churn.