Starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan.
Written by Chris Bertolini.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman.
For the umpteenth time on the silver screen, extraterrestrials invade Planet Earth and proceed to tear us all a new one. As these nasty aliens crash into the sea and storm the beaches of the West Coast like some nightmare version of the Allies at Normandy, the US military is mobilised to defend L.A. One squad, charged with civilian rescue, find themselves cut off in the thick of the battle with time running out before the Air Force bombs the crap out of the city. My instinct with Battle: Los Angeles is to drive in the skewer, place it over an open fire and roast it until the skin begins to crackle. But I’m not going to do that. A film with a title of “Battle: Los Angeles” damn well better deliver a battle in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what this film does. It offers no apologies for its by-the-numbers approach, and as an audience member with popcorn box and coke in hands, it delivers precisely what you’d expect. Sure, we know the greenhorn Lieutenant will sacrifice himself for his men, and we can tell in the first five minutes that the jaded protagonist with the traumatised past will rise above his turmoil to save the day. We can see the plot points telegraphed for miles across the skyline of Santa Monica, but who cares? This film is not offering any insight, no metaphorical content of any worth. It’s a popcorn flick – it almost encourages you to look down and brush that spilt popcorn from your lap because it knows (and you know) that you ain’t gonna miss a thing in doing so. The heavy-handed war machine propaganda that permeates Battle: Los Angeles is much of what you expect from any Hollywood film featuring US Marines, and two-dimensional characters are part and parcel of the action genre. The problem with films such as these however, does lie in the standardised approach to their storytelling. Despite proclaiming it as mere escapism, it is films like Battle: Los Angeles that gave the action genre (and to some extent, the sci-fi genre) the stigma it has begrudgingly accepted over the years. But it doesn’t have to be this way; audiences don’t necessarily want the prescience that these films provide in their typical approach. If Hollywood learnt anything from modern action films such as Die Hard and Three Kings – that character development and originality in story (and structure) excite an audience as opposed to clichés lulling them into acceptance – the industry is certainly not putting it into practice.
by Wadrick Jones