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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Battle Los Angeles

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  3_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Battle Los Angeles

With a title like that, get ready for some noise.  Battle Los Angeles is essentially a war movie that could easily have been named Battle Afghanistan, Battle Iraq, or Battle Blitzkrieg.

The elements are the same.  The American military elite a.k.a. marines takes on the nearly impossible task of defending land and liberty from invaders.  These happen to come from space instead of Kabul or Berlin, sneaking up on U.S, intelligence by way of a meteor shower.

There needs to be a hero, and here it’s Staff Sgt. Mike Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) who’s got a checkered military past (he’s lost men in battle, but survived himself, apparently a big no-no with the Semper-Fi crowd).

Unfortunately for Nantz, his retirement date coincides with the meteor/alien invasion that’s gripped the world and he’s assigned duty under a much younger lieutenant and a group of men who know his history, including one whose brother died under the Staff Sgt.’s command.

The team infiltrates Santa Monica, under siege by dozens of alien troops and ships, to transport any civilians they find to the safety of the FOB (Forward Operating Base) before command headquarters drops a bomb on all of that pricey real estate.  They’ve got limited time to do this with mobile, signal-detecting aliens on their tail every step of the way.  Air Force TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) joins the group in one ravaged neighborhood to inject some girl-power into the fray.

After exchanging artillery fire amid scenes of mass destruction and human carnage, the marines rescue five civilians (two adults and three children) and try to evacuate them before discovering the invaders’ air superiority in yet another explosively loud encounter.  Get used to it.  This film would not make most people’s “kick back and relax” list.

Civilians Joe Rincon (Michael Peña) and son Hector (Bryce Cass) along with Michele (Bridget Moynahan) and two little girls join the scary ride by bus and helicopter with the marines as chaotic bodyguards.  Only Hector gets any real screen time as his relationship with his father is explored while the two unnamed girls are relegated to screams and terrified looks.  Hector’s appearance allows Nantz to utter uplifting, motivational words to the boy.

Michelle is a veterinarian by profession, yet she mispronounces the word.  Being an animal doc comes in handy when she’s called upon to autopsy a still-living alien.  Can one be humane when dealing with non-humans?

How will the group of soldiers and civilians make it back to base before the bombs are detonated?  Will there even be a base waiting for them?  Will Staff Sgt. Nantz ever gain the respect of his men?

Aaron Eckhart does what he can to provide cinematic leadership and give the viewer a tough though sympathetic protagonist.  His recitation of his dead men’s serial numbers is the best scene in the film and makes a connection that’s lacking everywhere else.

Bridget Moynahan and Michael Peña’s characters seem thrown together because they provide “types” that are necessary to the story.  Michelle Rodriguez is quickly turning into a gun-toting, badass female in just about every film in which she appears.  It would be good to see her without a helmet on once in a while.  Las Vegas-based recording artist Ne-Yo a.k.a Shaffer Smith is Cpl. Harris, one of the marines given a fleeting backstory in an attempt to make the audience invested in his fate.

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls) keeps the action rolling like machine gun fire and rarely stops to regroup.  Explosions, artillery and rifle fire all blend together to make long stretches of noise and movement that transpire so swiftly, it’s hard to discern who’s wounded, what blew up, or which side sustained losses.  It’s as if the script by Christopher Bertolini (The General’s Daughter) was written entirely in capital letters and exclamation marks; the effect is numbing, certainly not the intended viewer reaction.

Sometimes, loud is just…loud.  There’s got to be more to a battle than that.

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