Who's In It: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Ramon Rodriguez, Ne-Yo
The Basics: Los Angeles, the obvious cultural center of the Western hemisphere, is once again under attack--but this time, it's not by wildfires, earthquakes, or random, Roland Emmerich-created tornadoes. Now, L.A. is threatened by extra-terrestrials, and they mean business. They're not here to reason with us or check out that excellent gelato place in Silverlake--they are here to wipe out humans and take our water. Yes that's right. Angelenos are going to die for their Brita filters. And Aaron Eckhart is just the Marine to stop them.
What's The Deal: This is not your garden-variety, wisecracking hero-charms-the-pants-off-the-enemy, cutesy-wutesy action flick. This is a garden-variety war movie and the enemy is from another planet. It's more Hurt Locker than Independence Day. From beginning to end, this thing just keeps jackhammering at your nerves. Sure, there are a few moments of comic relief, both intended and not (Aaron Eckhart imploring a kid to be a "little Marine" is priceless), but mostly this film assaults you worse than the LAPD on a traffic stop in Watts. My heart rate was so high during the film, it took care of my cardio for the day. Totally fun, totally ridiculous, totally insane.
Thank You For Smoking: Aaron Eckhart is spectacular in the role of Staff Sgt. Nance. He's a misunderstood, stoic Marine who makes the tough decisions and keeps on hoo-rah'ing through it all. It doesn't matter whether he's stabbing an alien repeatedly in the chest, reassuring his Lieutenant, or tying a child's shoelace--the man is all class. We've seen the role of "tough-as-nails on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside" guy. Eckhart makes it look effortless here and brought back memories of heroes long gone by. He even told a kid that it was okay to cry. Hoorah, indeed.
Attack Of The Hand-Held Camera: Contributing to the claustrophobic feeling was the abundance of hand-held close-ups. Ever since Bourne Identity, audiences have been squinting their way through tightly framed action scenes in film, and this movie really took that to another level. Was it effective? Absolutely. I got the feeling this is truly what combat is like. However, I found myself wishing, as I often do, that I got to actually see a little bit more of what was happening.
Chasing The Dragon: As I was watching the film, I was thinking about how over-stimulated our society is. We keep having to continuously top ourselves in order to get a rush. We can no longer be impressed over something as simple as seeing a moving picture of a train entering the station--now we need one hour and 56 minutes of completely berserk explosions, gunfire, and car crashes in order to feel anything at all. Between Bridget Moynahan making veterinarian jokes and alien ships blowing out car windows, I caught myself thinking that Battle: Los Angeles is one of the signs that our culture is heading towards a Roman-esque downfall. They eventually hit their ceiling too.