Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Michelle Rodriguez, Michelle Monaghan, Will Rothhaar, Cory Hardrict, Jim Parrack, Ne-Yo
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writer(s): Christopher Bertolini
Cinematography: Lukas Ettlin
Original Score: Brian Tyler
Running Time: 116 Mins.
Another year, another alien invasion film, though this one is slightly different in that we see very little of the actual aliens not in a cryptic secretive way that keeps them hidden so we are left wondering what they look like, no, Battle Los Angeles presents us with an alien race that are simply another force to be fought off in that gung-ho way that only the American troops can muster. This is essentially Black Hawk Down, except it’s not nearly that good, not the Battle Los Angeles is without merit rather it is just a little, well, meh.
Most films are good, or bad, while a fair few sit on that middle ground of being not good enough to warrant a glowing recommendation though not particularly bad enough to be ranted about though the more I think about Battle Los Angeles the more it irks me on some fronts. To start on a positive note though, it is pacey and saves little time for characterisation, this isn’t a film that attempts to dig deep into the psyche of a soldier, meaning the action is full-on and at times quite exciting in the moment even if I can’t recall specific moments, apparently fun and great don’t always come hand in hand meaning this is at best a Friday night slice of brainless testosterone.
Unfortunately this onslaught of action means we are left with nearly two hours of boom, smash, bang, scream, gun-shot, and repeat, over and over again until you’re left with the obligatory “survivors” holed up in one last-ditch defence. The finale isn’t the only cliché, the plot flows from one to another at a pace, with the fast pace being the only thing stopping you thinking hmm hasn’t this been ripped from Black Hawk Down, Independence Day, District 9 or any other number of action/war/alien films. Despite these alien invasion movie tics the grunts eye view of things always prevails, meaning that each cardboard chaarcter cut-out is left wide open, you name him he’s (or she) here, hell even Michelle Rodriguez is here playing a hard ass marine like only she can.
Thank heavens then for Aaron Eckhart (a damn site better than the material deserves) he is a convincing marine and delivers his cheesy and hackneyed lines with gusto but, much like the film as a whole, lacks a more humourous and lighter side that would have been a saving grace amidst the gushing heroic speeches that will leave you cringing, we wallow on protracted deaths and injuries that hope to immerse you in the plight faced by “the world” (read: America) but without the appropriate characterisation, all each death amounts to is just another hard-ass American soldier.
There are hints at a different angle, fleetingly we see the aliens pull their injured away, something which would have given a fresh angle to proceedings, but with the enemy as faceless otherwise and offerded no time bar being cannon fodder there can be no empathy or for that matter interest. The effects bringing the creatures to life are superb however and make for an interesting enemy, one with limits like ourselves, but once again it is an avenue left unexplored.
Battle Los Angeles is little more that a Black Hawk Down retread albeit it’s weaker cousin, the threat may as well not have been alien given how faceless they are though the heros themselves aren’t given much more to work with. To give it it’s due for a film about spectacle and action it manages to hit the mark frequently if only in a “seen it all before way” but will linger with you no longer than that.