Battle: Los Angeles is a film directed by Jonathan Liebesman, known for Darkness Falls and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. Neither of which I’ve seen so this is my first film by him I’ve seen. It’s essentially an action movie based around a worldwide alien invasion that focuses in particular on a smaller aspect of the global situation. A platoon’s goal to save the lives of five civilians from an LAPD police station before the entire area is destroyed by the military. It’s an effort to form a barrier against the aliens from getting too far in land, as they rely heavily on ocean supplies, hence their attacks only on coastal cities.
The first quarter of the movie focuses on the buildup of character development. The main character is Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), who is a U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant that has decided to retire from the marines after feeling the strains of the beginnings of old age. But he is required to return as a platoon sergeant due to the dire situation at hand. The platoon has several other marines as well that each have a slight focus either with themselves and their families, or their relationships with each other. But with so many characters to focus on and keep track of, it was unnecessary to have put so much time on development that could have been built in as the movie progressed. It’s clear that the back story wasn’t a priority for this film.
I was surprised overall that the focus of the film wasn’t on the world-wide catastrophe/armageddon-esqe aspect of the situation, nor did it really focus entirely on battling the attacks in Los Angeles but instead their goal was to save the lives of civilians, all the while getting through attacks, keeping on the downlow and walking over or around what was likely hundreds of dead bodies. It seemed like such a minuscule task to do considering how large a scale the event was that was taking place. It eventually reaches a point where you have to wonder whether there’s even a point to continue on. There are points in the film where things feel so extreme, when taking into account the volume of control the aliens have over the battles they’ve waged with over 20 cities around the world, how can the level of hopelessness not consume the viewer, assuming the viewer was invested at all in the film up to this point, from giving up and leaving. The destruction reached is unimaginable and the possibility of being able to succeed, considering the circumstances, seem impossible. Multiple times I had to ask myself, what’s the point of all of this?
Eventually, following all of this, the movie begins to feel like it’s dragging on. With so many obstacles, which is likely a result of having focused on such a small aspect in such a huge scenario, it’s hard to really know when it’s appropriate to end. When one short-sighted goal is completed, there’s always a bigger one that needs attending to. Essentially, the film could last much longer than it did. However, for the task at hand, what was being set out to do had been achieved and the ending of the film opens up to one’s own extrapolation of what might happen afterward.
For an action movie, Battle: LA had a lot of action. Although probably not as much as someone who truly wants an action-packed thriller would get. If looking for a storyline, Battle: LA had one but it lacked the sort of connectivity you’d want in a solid film. Overall, there was too much packed into this film so no single aspect stood out as being impressive. Entertaining to watch but once it’s over, you feel like you’d have missed nothing by missing this.