This blog reviews war movies with special emphasis on historical accuracy.
Friday, March 11, 2011
NOW SHOWING: "Battle: Los Angeles"
If you love war movies, alien invasion movies, and Westerns, “Battle: Los Angeles” is for you. It combines these genres in an entertaining, if unoriginal way. You will recognize parts of “Black Hawk Down”, “Star Wars”, any suicide mission movie, any small unit movie, and numerous hold the fort against the Indians movies. Its plot is old school, but it is given a modern feel with new school hand held camera looks, point of view filming and quick cuts. The violence is also new school in its frenetic and chaotic nature. There are plenty of explosions to sate the American audience. “Battle: Los Angeles” is replete with clichés, but they are comforting for many war movie lovers. These clichés include the heterogeneous unit, the redemption of the leader who lost men on his last mission, the BFF who sacrifices himself, to name a few. Also, if you don’t like surprises, you’ll be able to predict most of the plot turns.
The movie begins with an alien invasion of Earth. Surprisingly, the movie is set in August of 2011. Sgt. Nantz (Alan Eckhart) is due to retire, but of course postpones it to serve his country in this crisis. He is assigned to a new unit headed by the soon-to-be new father Lt. Martinez. (Cliché alert) We are introduced to the members of the squad through brief snippets. One is about to get married, one is a cherry who has not lost his, one is being flagged by the psychiatrist, one is a Nigerian medic, etc. Nantz brings baggage to his new platoon because he left some men behind on his last mission. Will he get redemption?
Their mission is to go behind enemy lines to rescue an unknown number of civilians at a police station. As if it’s not a suicide mission to begin with, they have only three hours before the Air Force toasts the area. Why you would waste valuable warriors for this is not questioned. They naturally run into an ambush as we get our first look at the aliens. They look like the aliens in “District Nine”, only much harder to kill. Strangely, sometimes they move with stealthy speed over roof tops and other times they lumber forward down streets. Their weapons are apparently some type of white phosphorous-like projectile that produces thermal burns.
They hook up with some survivors including a female Air Force intelligence officer (Michelle Rodriguez). Women may not be allowed in combat, but this babe can dish it out when given the opportunity. The unit reaches the police station to find only five civilians. The station becomes Fort Apache for a while. A medevac helicopter gives the director the opportunity to have a spectacular explosion and to prove virgins never survive in a movie like this. Luckily, there is a bus nearby that they can ride to safety. Nantz does “some real John Wayne shit” (do Marines still refer to John Wayne tactics?) to destroy a drone. Things are going well with the alien aircraft apparently unable to spot a moving bus in a desolate landscape. Unfortunately, the joy ride ends with busted tires from shrapnel. An intense fire-fight ensues with the LT sacrificing himself to blow up the enemy which conveniently puts Nantz in command.
They next take refuge in a store (in a Western, this would be a watering hole) so we can have some more exposition and bonding and a touching death scene. They also will wait out the bombardment, which does not come. They continue to the Forward Operating Base, but find that the evil Transformers (whoops, wrong movie) have already been there leaving no one even wounded. They plow their way out in a Stryker and Humvee which allows them to run over some aliens. They reach a heli evacuation site and are on their way to safety when Nantz discovers the alien command and control center and decides to go after it alone. Surprise, the rest of the squad goes with him. It’s a foot bound assault on the Death Star. The rest you can see for yourself.
I know I’m being a bit snarky, but I actually enjoyed this movie. You have to take what you can get these days in the arid landscape of war movies. It is an entertaining movie with lots of action and some decent acting. It is very pro-Marines and anti-aliens. If the marines did not give full cooperation in the production, they got a free two hour commercial. It is simplistic in its plot, but competent in its execution. You may get a headache from the intensity of the combat scenes, but that’s what we’re looking for, right?