'Battle: LA' high on action, war movie clichés

Article Published: Mar. 17, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Battle: LA' high on action, war movie clichés

Aaron Eckhart stars in 'Battle: Los Angeles.'


"Battle: Los Angeles" is like watching someone else play a video game.

It's packed with PG-13 action, countless explosions and more hooahs than an Al Pacino retrospective - but it's hardly engaging.

"Battle" is not so much an alien invasion movie as it is a heavily clichéd war movie, like its cookie-cutter band of two-dimensional Marines and their obligatory introductions - one's about to retire, another's expecting a kid, and another's about to get married - with more Semper Fi than you can shake a bayonet at.

And, of course, there's the perpetually scowling Michelle Rodriguez ("Avatar"), playing her usual role - a no-nonsense military something or another.

Aaron Eckhart ("The Dark Knight") is SSgt. Nantz, a weathered Marine who's seen his share of combat and is on the eve of retirement (cue Danny Glover saying, "I'm getting' too old for this s#!*"). His discharge is suspended, however, when the military begins mobilizing after bizarre meteor showers are detected near every major coastal city in the world.

When the meteors wind up being alien landing craft, and the aliens end up being far from friendly - instantly opening fire on Los Angeles and its Los Angelinos - Nantz and company spring into action.
They're tasked with breaking through enemy lines to rescue a group of civilians stranded in an abandoned police station, but, of course, nothing goes as planned.

Outmanned, outgunned and determined to leave no man behind, their rescue mission continues - for better or worse. But each enemy encounter teaches Nantz and company something new, something that could potentially save the city should they survive.

The cast is decent at best, but Eckhart ("The Dark Knight") performs admirably, especially considering the film's lack of depth. But "Battle" is simply devoid of character.

Action, on the other hand, is at its heart, and it keeps pumping for the whole 116-minute runtime. Let me be clear: There's action aplenty. As soon as the filmmakers' slapdash attempt at character development is out of the way (and it doesn't take long), it's on.

Filmed in herky-jerky, frenetic handheld camera style, "Battle" essentially places viewers in our heroes' platoon, as they face off against scores of extraterrestrial beasties hellbent on conquering and plundering Earth for its resources.

Subtext? Maybe accidentally, but director Jonathan Liebesman ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning") is noticeably more concerned with sticking to formula.

"Battle: Los Angeles" is simply old hat, or old flak helmet in this case, offering nothing new to either of its genres and taking a long time in a process.

"Battle: Los Angeles," rated PG-13 for sustained and intense sequences of war violence and destruction, and for language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

For show times, see page 20 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com.

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