Review by Pete Roche
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES is both retread and remake—a Cliff’s Notes of post-Cold War alien invasion movies that scavenges stronger creature-features like DAY and STARSHIP TROOPERS without furthering the genre. INDEPENDENCE
Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is past his shelf-life with the military but suits up again with some less-experienced Marines to investigate an incoming meteor shower. The grunts—who think they’re coordinating an evacuation—learn the “meteors” have solid metal cores and decelerated before slamming into the ocean. The horrific truth becomes clear: like a dozen other major port cities around the globe,
is under siege by a hostile alien army. Yes, friends, there is other life on other planets—and it will kill us for our water. L.A.
“It’s a textbook invasion,” says army spokesman on TV. Sadly, BATTLE:
is a textbook invasion movie whose first act is essentially a mishmash of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and PREDATOR. The marines don’t know what they’re up against and aren’t used holding the line at home, right outside the neighborhood Domino’s Pizza. They’ve only got six hours to rescue civilians hunkered at a local police station (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13) before jet fighters carpet bomb the entire place (PLATOON, AVP: REQUIEM). L.A.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Nantz has survivor’s guilt. His last mission ended tragically and now, on the eve of retirement, redemption means facing an extraterrestrial enemy—marauding Bionicles with limitless firepower and no exploitable weakness. The urban incursions—shot with handheld cams and resembling C-SPAN combat footage from Fallujah—are intense (a la HURT LOCKER, RESTREPO). The troops hurl grenades, fire bazookas, and launch F-bombs while dodging the armored aliens.
In a middle act reminiscent of SPEED, the overwhelmed heroes hotwire a getaway bus—only to discover their exit ramp no longer exists. Surrounded by Nasties on a crumbling freeway overpass, they make the sacrifices we’ve come to expect in movies like this. A female USAF tech operative (Michelle Rodriguez) joins the Boys Club at halftime, but her presence feels obligatory—as if filling some quota.
The climax finds our scrappy team of Semper-Fis plotting to neutralize the entire alien air force by bombing its command tower. Kill the data feed, and they’ll disable the drones. We’ve seen stuff like this before, too—in STAR WARS: PHANTOM MENACE and