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Battle: Los Angeles
5 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Jonathan Liebesman

Written By:
Christopher Bertolini

Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Cory Hardrict, Gino Anthony Pesi, Ne-Yo, James Hiroyuki Liao, Bridget Moynahan, Noel Fisher, Adetokumboh M'Cormack, Michael Peņa, Michelle Rodriguez, Neil Brown Jr., Taylor Handley, Joey King, Lucas Till, Jadin Gould, Joe Chrest, E. Roger Mitchell, Rus Blackwell, Susie Abromeit, Brandi Coleman, Elizabeth Keener, Jessica Heap, David Jensen, Stacey Turner, Tom Hillmann, Lena Clark, Taryn Southern, James D. Dever, Will Rothhaar, Jim Parrack, Todd Cochran, Bryce Cass, Kenneth Brown Jr., Jamie Norwood, Todd Cochran, Nzinga Blake

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)
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Movie Review by Filmkiller
June 15th, 2011

About the Mission

Favorite Movie Quote: "You can go left, you can go right - I don't give a damn - just make a decision."

I skipped Battle: Los Angeles when it came to the theater mostly because I'd heard too many reviews bill the film as pure action cheese - even comparing it to Michael Bay's garbage, which is f*cking insulting; Michael Bay should take notes. Science fiction Battle LA certainly isn't; it's a war film, and it's a pretty good one.

Strangely effective without being exceptionally complicated in plot or character, Battle LA injects a sense of urgency with a ticking clock and expert pacing and tone delivering exactly what it promises, the battle for Los Angeles seen through the eyes of one squad of United States Marines, specifically Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart).

While the other characters are at times difficult to keep seperate amidst the chaos and armor, they function as a team and I identified them as such; so while I may not have been aware whether it was 'Steve' or 'Billy' that just died, it was dramatic enough for me that they were US Marines. I didn't need to identify the civilians as much more than what they were - the macguffin, in this case the thing to be protected - and as such they serve their purpose and beyond. Mind you, if you applied this same character paradigm to a romantic comedy or drama I'd expect the whole thing to fall flat on its face just as I likewise would expect an exceptionally complicated depiction of Richard III inserted into something as high-paced as this to be a complete disaster.

Eckhart's the eye of the storm, and such a storm it is, any additional story would've been ridiculously out of place, such as a thankfully lacking love story (you just know some douchy studio exec was insisting to put in) between Eckhart's Nantz and Bridget Moynahan's Michelle.

I suppose I should admit to being pro-military though anti-government, so I favor war films that show low-ranking soldiers cut off from the chain of command, and while there's no political complications in Battle LA, the motivation of the soldiers for the majority of the film is very focused and very simple: save a pocketful of civilians as well as themselves.

The intensity of the movie lets up just long enough to catch your breath and then it's on to the next fight. There are conflicts between certain characters and within others, but this really is secondary to constant tension of the driving narrative. The aliens themselves are not even investigated beyond making it clear that they're here to kill everything and skin babies, but this does allow the movie to focus soley on action and more importantly the human drama during that action; even during the action sequences the film never changes its point of view from the Marines.

I've heard Battle LA criticized as a video game, a first person shooter, and a recruitment movie for the US Marines; I guess on a certain level it just comes down to one's personal politics. I will say that regarding it resembling a video game I personally have become increasingly turned off by the explosion-ridden, zero-consequence, idea-puke, CG-diareah actioner such as Transformers 2 Revenge of the Talentless, Indiana Jones and the Worthless Action Sequence, and Avatar: Either One. I didn't find Battle LA to fit into that category. It was what it was, a near-constant fight to get out of Los Angeles, and the action seemed appropriate.

As recruitment propaganda for the Marines... I don't know. It seems to me that you aren't allow to show US military personnel in a positive light without garnering this acusation. Personally, I don't think the film was trying to get into the politics of any situation. Instead, like a mud-foot or grunt, its mission was simple, showing the motivations of the rank and file. They follow orders, fight for each other, and fight for those who can't fight for themselves. As illustrated when a civilian picks up a weapon to defend others, I don't think the film was glorifying Marines as having sole propriety over the last two higher ideals.

Battle: Los Angeles isn't Midnight in Paris and it isn't trying to be - and it what's more it shouldn't try to be. For Battle LA it was about the mission.


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