In 1996 the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle Eraser was released. It’s come to be viewed by some critics as the film that marked the end of an era for action films. Now, twenty-six years later, Warner Bros. is trying to revisit that era with Eraser: Reborn. Can they pull it off, especially without the original’s star, budget, or most importantly, railguns?
After taking out a gang holding Sugar Jax (Eddie Ramos, Endless, The Night Stalker) U.S. Marshal Mason Pollard (Dominic Sherwood, Shadowhunters, Don’t Sleep) appears to kill him for blowing his cover. But it’s all a ruse, Pollard is an “Eraser” skilled in faking witnesses’ deaths and putting them into new identities. To that end, Pollard is assigned to protect Rina Kimura (Jacky Lai, Silent Hill: Revelation, V-Wars) who was an informant against her mob boss husband until she ended up killing him. The fact he was such a scumbag that he was willing to pimp her out to his bosses may have something to do with that.
When a team of assassins led by Marco (Nathan Castle, Slumber Party Massacre, Warrior) come after her they’re forced to go into hiding in South Africa. But he soon finds out even that isn’t enough because someone on the inside has betrayed them.
Director John Pogue is no stranger to knocking out sequels and reboots on the cheap having Deep Blue Sea 3 and Quarantine 2: Terminal among his credits. Similarly, writer Michael D. Weiss has The Butterfly Effect 2, Hostel III, and The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power among his. They know what’s expected from them on a film like Eraser: Reborn and how to get the job done.
Granted Eraser: Reborn’s opening scene leaves something to be desired with incompetent villains and some poor attempts at humour. But the assassins storming the apartment Rina is hiding in makes for a decent enough set piece. Then they up the stakes with the news of the security breach and bring in a team of reinforcements led by Pollard’s mentor Agent Whitlock (McKinley Belcher III, Ozark, Trial by Fire) and NSA Agent Oltcheck (Kai Luke Brummer, Professionals).
But no matter how good of a film they delivered the makers of Eraser: Reborn have a huge problem to overcome. This is a low-budget film shot by Warner Bros. bargain-basement home entertainment division. It can’t come close to matching the scale and spectacle of a mid-level action film let alone the original Eraser. No matter what they do, this is going to look cheap in comparison.
So it doesn’t matter how many fights and foot chases Eraser: Reborn has. Or how well-staged they are, and they are well-staged, the film is doomed to disappoint anyone who watches it based on its title. Because they are foot chases and fistfights, not car chases and explosion-filled firefights. In the same vein, Sherwood isn’t bad in the role and he does look like most current action stars, but he doesn’t have the charisma or physical stature to compete with fans’ memories of Schwarzenegger.
And that’s too bad because without the baggage of its title, Eraser: Reborn is an enjoyable example of a DTV action film. The plot, while hardly original is serviceable enough and builds to a solid showdown on a Capetown dockyard. It also allows for a couple of good action set pieces, including a nod to the original’s alligator scene. This should have been presented as its own film and spared the backlash and unflattering comparisons it’ll most likely get.
After a surprising theatrical release in Germany earlier this year, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release Eraser: Reborn in the US and Canada on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD on June 7th. And while you’re waiting, FilmTagger has some suggestions for getting your action fix.