Monday, 8 April 2013



(Philip Stölzl, 2012)

The Expatriate contains a scene where Aaron Eckhart's ex-black ops agent Ben Logan is pursued into a European subway station by thugs, who he takes on and beats. Its a bit like the similar scene in Joe Wright's Hanna where Eric Bana takes on some thugs in a European subway station, only nowhere near as good.
The Expatriate also contains a scene where Ben Logan evades detection by policemen and security cameras in a European train station by keeping his head down and moving cleverly. It's a bit like the similar scene in Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum where Jason Bourne evades detection in Waterloo Station, only nowhere near as good.
Then there's the scene in The Expatriate where Logan visits a European morgue to get to the bottom of the mystery of what is happening to him. It's a bit like the similar scene where Bourne visits a European morgue in Doug Liman's The Bourne Identity, only nowhere near as good.
And what about the scene in The Expatriate where the bad guys have taken Logan's sullen teenage daughter hostage, and Logan tells one of them that if they hurt her, he's dead? Thats a bit like a similar scene in Taken where Liam Neeson tells a bad guy something similar, only nowhere near as good.
The Expatriate goes further than mere copying, in fact. It takes the Bourne films almost as a genre and lifts much of what is so distinctive about them wholesale. The cinematography, editing, captions, mood and music all feel Bourne-like, but this film lacks the smart writing and distinctive directorial vision of that series.
It's not all bad, just thoroughly moderate in almost every way. Eckhart is a decent lead, Kurelyenko has little to do but looks as beautiful as ever, and the Belgian locations are well-utilised. The story follows Eckhart's decommisioned agent ("He grew a conscience" of course!) after he is double-crossed and finds himself on the run alongside his daughter. Of course they hardly know one another, but as a hundred action films have proven, theres no better way to bond with a near-stranger than a series of intense, near-death experiences. A strange problem here is that there aren't quite enough such experiences. Occupying the middle ground between thriller and action film, The Expatriate is a little too light on the sort of action that fires the engines of the Bourne films, and works a bit too hard to make us care about the father-daughter relationship it depicts to grip the way a great thriller should.
It's a tad overlong, and if Stölzl has a good eye for handsomely steely compositions and competently directs a couple of action sequences, his feel for pacing is way off on this evidence.
In short, its a bit like a whole load of other films, only nowhere near as good.

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