Thursday 17 March 2011


(Jonathan Liebesman, 2011)

As if it was made by some random sci-fi action blockbuster generator, there is not a single original idea in Battle: Los Angeles. It is derivative of every militaro-sci fi film since Aliens in it's gung ho lunkheadedness, utilises the by-now exhuasted shaky cam/ shallow focus/overexposed film style for it's action scenes first seen in Saving Private Ryan and done to death in a dozen films since and wants desperately to be a sort of Black Hawk Down meets Independence Day with its ground level view of a unit of stereotyped grunts facing an Alien invasion in L.A.
Aaron Eckhardt plays a gruffly heroic Staff Sergeant haunted by the loss of his men on an earlier mission who wants out of the Marine Corps but gets stuck babysitting a rookie Lieutenant direct from West Point with a pregnant wife. Other shorthand soldier-characterisations include: innocent hayseed virgin, cynical New Jersey Wiseguy, earnest Nigerian medic, competent Squad leader and a bunch of barely-differentiated Marines who get to die a little earlier. Their mission involves transporting some stranded civilians out of a blast zone so the Aliens can be wiped off the map, but along the way, of course, they discover how to beat these seemingly invincible adversaries and play a key role in winning the battle of the title.
Overlong, horribly directed - every time a gun is fired spatial incoherence becomes the norm - it plays like an enjoyable first person shooter video game stripped of it's gameplay and rendered a barely watchable action film. Eckhardt flexes his cheek muscles and does his best but the rest of the cast are lumbered with mainly expositional dialogue mixed in with some street slang trash talk, including Michelle Rodriguez in the "Michelle Rodriguez part" of the tough, non-nonsense airforce soldier who fights like a man.
The effects are impressive enough, but really, in a film like this they must be, and they in no way compensate for the right wing military fetishism generally on display here or for the lazy writing and aggressively bad direction.

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