CRASH. BANG. WALLOP. These are the sights and sounds of Battle: Los Angeles, the latest alien invasion movie to hurtle into screens up and down the country leaving heavy eyes and sore heads in its wake.
What plot there is centres on Aaron Eckhart’s stoical Staff Sergeant marine. He’s just returned from a tour in the Middle East amid rumours he got two of his men killed. Seeking retirement, he is called back to help defend Los Angeles from a bunch of meteor-joy-riding aliens (who appear to have stepped off the set of District 9). We’re informed that LA is the last city to fall on the West coast, with the rest of the globe already overwhelmed by the inter-stellar baddies. Eckhart must prove his ability to lead the rest of the marines as they are shipped to the frontline to save a group of humans caught in the crossfire.
So, what we get is a political undercurrent where the U.S. is in the process of being occupied, relating to American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (the aliens have, tellingly, arrived to obtain our water), a human drama of survival in the face of adversity and the story of one man’s mission to redeem himself as a hero worthy of respect. However, it’s as if the filmmakers have an acute form of ADHD – enough with the talking, let’s blow some stuff up.
At first, stuff’s blown up rather well. Initial street skirmishes impress with Saving Private Ryan shaky-cam utilised for that ‘authentic’ feel (as much as you can make an alien invasion authentic). The problem is that after these sequences, the film has nowhere to go; it writes itself into a creative cul de sac, following up with scene upon scene of marine/alien battles with no pause for breath in between. It really is rather dull.