As an two-hour long advertisement for the US marines, Battle: Los Angeles is excellent. As a feature film, not so much.
Veteran marine Michael Nantz is ready to retire after a long and distinguished career. The day after he makes his intentions clear, major cities around the world come under attack from an unknown entity. Squad sergeant Nantz and his team must battle against the alien attackers to save Los Angeles…
Jonathan Liebesman’s Battle: Los Angeles features all of the standard conventions of an apocalyptic/alien attack movie. There is little innovation in any aspect of the film. The pacing is uneven; there are several false endings and the film lasts longer than it should. Although the movie centres on an alien attack, little is revealed about the extraterrestrials. Instead, Battle: Los Angeles concentrates on the near relentless action.
Writer Chris Bertolini injects his script with all the usual clichés. At its worse, the film is an embarrassment of cringe-worthy dialogue. Nantz’s speeches to his men are riddled with the overblown sentiment of a Michael Bay film. Likewise, while Bertolini strives for heartfelt with the confabulating of Hector’s father Joe, the result is more nauseating than anything else.
The characters in Battle: Los Angles fulfill the usual archetypes for the style of film. Nantz is at first the reluctant hero, coming into his stride as the film progresses. He is the all-American hero; putting the lives of his team before his own, and saving the civilians at any cost. Within his team, none of the characters particularly stand out. Lockett is the familiar good guy with a chip on his shoulder, while Santos is the token female.
Special effects are pretty decent, although there is minimal detailed footage of the alien invaders. The sound is bombastic; with all the explosions, gunfire and helicopter sounds, there is barely a moment’s peace in Battle: Los Angeles. Camera work combines the rough, hand-held style of Cloverfield with the veneer of a Roland Emmerich movie.
Aaron Eckhart is a talented actor, so it is a mystery as to why he plumped for this script. Elsewhere, performances are fine overall; it is the dialogue rather than the delivery that is the problem. Michelle Rodriguez plays her usual tough girl role, while Ne-Yo’s foray into movies is not much of a test.
The stock heroics, familiar perilous situations, and the little children to rescue are all present in the film. The only thing missing is the dog. Audiences may be better off re-watching Independence Day or any of its ilk as Battle: Los Angeles offers nothing new.