Battle Los Angeles (Jonathan Liebersman, 2011) features Aaron Eckhart and Michelle Rodriguez as team members of a group of marines sent to find and recover civilians held up in a police station. The film follows the progress of this team as they go on their journey. It features Aaron Eckhart as Michael Nantz a grizzled veteran who has recently lost his whole team during a previous mission and has now been placed in this new team which contains the brother of one of the men lost in his previous mission in order to drum up some sort of character development and drama outside the action. Michelle Rodriguez randomly shows up a an air force fighter pilot Elena Santos who crashed during a high priority recon mission to find the Alien’s communication centre.
So there you are, that’s the set up and that’s pretty much all that happens in this film. Which is why I beg the question was this intended to be a sci-fi movie or a war movie, was it meant to be an Independence Day or a Black Hawk Down with Aliens. The answer is the latter, it’s a war movie not sci-fi, the invading force could be substituted with anything and this film would work and fiction on the same level with barely any changes to the script. So having established that this is a war movie and not a science fiction movie, we can now pick apart the film from that aspect.
This film is constant, face melting action all the way through and boy does it do it well. This film cannot be knocked for special effects and action choreography… Plagiarism maybe but the action itself is stunning and in all honesty is what makes this movie watchable. Without the non stop action this film would be corny, clichéd utterances and grunts. The script is ultimately what lets this down, originality and dialogue are not strong points. From the start you can pick out and predict who is going to die and what conflicts are going to be in the film, we’ve come to expect the guy writing a letter in the chopper to die, we know the last words echoed from his bullet ridden body will be “give this to my wife.” We know the smart guy with all the tactics is going to be over thrown by the guy with experience and we know the woman is going to be a ‘tough chick’. This movie is filled with every war movie cliché imaginable from the back and forth “go on with out me! I’m not leaving you behind” to expecting the black guy to die along side the guy who’s just one day away from retirement. This film uses them all. While the special effects are top notch, you cant help but notice the striking similarities to District 9 in the Aliens ship design and even the shape of the aliens, imagine district 9 aliens in armour and you have the aliens in this film.
As for the acting… well what can you expect from the script they had to work with, it’s bad, the speeches are bad and even the grunting is bad… Eckhart and Rodriguez do their best but it’s still weak at best especially with the little to no development of their characters and Michelle Rodriguez’s inability to play more than one character in her whole career. Despite all of the cringe worthy dialogue and poor acting this is a war film and in a war film you don’t need that stuff all you really need is decent action to over shadow the films down falls. The movie is a 2 hour trailer for the next call of duty game, it even has a first person scene and an attentive viewer will notice the Resistance 3 posters scattered throughout the film.
This film falls into a very select category, it is eye candy, it is a movie to be looked at, not analysed. Plot and Character development are irrelevant because the film is pretty and with the sour taste of Skyline still tingling in the back of our throats Battle Los Angeles is a welcome relief. This film belongs with Transformers, when you feel like watching robots fighting and aliens getting their butts kicked, here’s your movie. As a non American viewer the over the top patriotism is noticeable and slightly off putting at points, especially when the movie turns into a recruitment add for the marines, an example being the scene with the kid and the almost sickening “I need you to be my little marine now” line, as well as the consistent “we’re marines, we’re the only ones who can do this. ooh rah” repeatedly cropping up in different locations throughout the film. But once you get used to that this film is enjoyable, very much so, even without world class acting and developed characters. Overall you can and will have a good time watching this movie, and that’s what its all about. Movies that blow you away with acting, directing and originality are great, but that doesn’t mean you wont enjoy a movie that can successfully stand alone without that. The film is fun and that’s what matters, you can watch it enjoy it and then laugh about it afterwards.
See the film, that’s my recommendation. You don need to see this film but if you’re looking for something enjoyable to watch its worth a trip to the cinema or pick it up on DVD.