Ooh I've Got a Gun
The Expatriate is one film that had the misfortune of having its trailer tell the entire story. Whoever did this promo clip ought to have taken a long hard look at his or her final work, and wonder how it could have been done without revealing too much. Making it worse is the admiration for Taken with the kidnapping of a daughter with the father in high pursuit, which gives the unfair impression that this is a cheap knock off, which it is not.
Written by Arash Amel and directed by German Philipp Stolzl, The Expatriate is almost like a Jason Bourne movie, with lead character Ben Logan (Aaron Eckhart) exhibiting a particular skillset that surprises his daughter Amy (Liana Liberato), who had gone to Brussels in order to spend some quality Dad time, only for the world as she knows go into a topsy-turvy. They get shot at multiple times by different pursuers, have the cops looking for them, and his dad's co-workers all wind up dead. To make matters worse, they have to discover why they're in someone else's bad books, and have to make it out alive when odds become increasingly stacked against them. But it went from Bourne to Taken with that kidnapping of Amy, though thankfully it was something more of an unnecessary sub-arc just to get Ben to be acting alone in the climax, with the villains using her as a bargaining chip to keep Ben at bay.
In essence, this turned out to be a standard action thriller that involves big bad corporations and covert agencies with sneaky agents who are comfortable with their doing the dirty work for whoever can pay a good price. Not to mention some behind the scenes, under table collaboration and influence that corrupt corporation big wigs have over those in the seat of power, since any campaign requires backing, usually of the financial kind. Here, we see how corporations obtain inside knowledge from those who can be bought, which makes it especially easy when these officials also have a selfish interest to pursue. In The Expatriate, this involves technology, framing, and the need to obtain classified documents so that they can either be altered or destroyed to avoid further implication, especially when something else gains worldwide attention, and further investigation would bring to light many embarrassing points.
Aaron Eckhart remains one of my favourite character actors, but as an action hero, I'm afraid not. The filmmakers tried to cover up using very Bourne techniques of fast edits and quick cuts, but it's too obvious Eckhart is no fighter, and was found a little bit wanting in action scenes. Those that require a little more brains than brawn, highlighting his skill as a black ops engineer, was more believable. And there was a bit on the details gone into assembling a briefcase bomb as well, though not as instructional for obvious reasons. Liana Liberato would likely polarize audiences though, because her character's too whiny, and complains at almost every stage the father-daughter pair find themselves in. Although proving to be useful at times, Liana did her best with the unpopular role of whining for the most parts. And having Olga Kurylenko was nothing more than a coup to have an additional recognizable name on the marquee, her role being pretty small, used to explain some romantic liaisons between Ben and her Anna Brandt, whose loyalty gets severely questioned, and a flip-flopper when it comes to making decisions.
With an ending that depended largely on the bad guys' over-confidence that bordered on arrogance and ignorance, it was a tad too convenient, though one that would leave audiences cheering, as if having watched a feel good film. Production values are top notch for a studio film, with Belgium being used extensively on location to bring about that Europe-chic feel that's fast becoming locations that any self-respective action-thriller must have. Recommend!