I'll be honest. I only wanted two things out of Battle: Los Angeles. One, that it took place in L.A. (-- not a deal-breaker, but, eh), and second, that there be, you know, a battle. Seems like a no-brainer of a request, but we've all been to the movies before, right? Right. Well, I'm happy to report that Battle: Los Angeles delivers on both those demands. It's also chock-full of (or, if your so inclined, choking) on an innumerable amount of clichés be it character -- from the weary, ready to hang up his boots Sergeant who once more proves his salt, to the green Lieutenant who first fails under fire but later redeems himself, to a Private with an axe to grind with his superiors -- or familiar situations as disaster mounts, lives are lost, and the alien invaders invariably sturm and drang their way to total victory, with mankind's only hope resting on the shoulders of Colonel Deus, Major Ex and Captain Machina. But I'm here to tell you, I didn't care one damn bit about all of that and enjoyed the hell out of every Alien-Ass-Kicking-Marine minute of this movie.
Now to be fair, despite the Ex's Deus, there really was a Battle for L.A. A battle battle, and not just some one-sided token attack overwhelmed by the hostile E.T.'s advanced technology. Well, there was, and then things kind of escalate from there. So what we got is a running firefight that lasts for about 3/4ths of the movie. Seriously, I haven't seen an alien invasion flick that gave the Terrestrials this kind of a fighting chance since Tobe Hooper's much maligned remake of Invaders from Mars. And, damn, but if I didn't find that refreshing. And just like in that movie, the Marines have no qualms about killing Martians here, either -- tough though that may be but they and their machines can be brought down. And it's not some kind of miraculous or Divinely compatible computer virus or daring fighter pilots that brings those invading assholes down but the grunts on the ground, paying for each foot of shattered real estate with blood, sweat and steel and a well placed artillery barrage.
Yeah, about as subtle as an old Edward Dmytryk or John Wayne Buy War Bond's propaganda programmer, in the end, Battle: Los Angeles is exactly what its title would imply and doesn't try to be anything else, and how you react to that will probably depend on what you bring into it. Hawkish, Patriotic, clichéd, stoopid, or a shameless two-hour commercial for the Marine Corps -- or Dramamine for those not immune to the old combat shaky-cam (... I really don't even notice that thing anymore, but I'll assure you all at no point did I not know what was going on on screen), whatever you prefer. Me? I'll take it at face value. A kick-ass popcorn thriller that I'd like to see again on the big screen. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I found myself applauding our heroes' valiant efforts not once, or twice, but three times -- the last with an accompanying whoop of "Hell yeah!"
Battle: Los Angeles (2011) Original Film-Columbia / D: Jonathan Liebesman / W: Chris Bertolini / C: Lukas Ettlin / E: Christian Wagner / P: Jeffrey Chernov, Samuel Dickerman, David Greenblatt, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz, Lisa Rodgers / S: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Cory Hardrict, Adetokumboh M'Cormack, Bridget Moynahan