Battle Los Angeles follows a group of US Marines who are thrown into combat with extraterrestrial invaders in the City of Angels. On August 12, 2011, large masses thought to be meteorites land in the oceans near several major coastal cities. The objects are discovered to be spacecraft containing hostile extraterrestrial life. Marines from Camp Pendleton arrive in Los Angeles, including Sgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart), a 20-year veteran who had lost his squad during his tour in Iraq. Nantz was officially to begin his retirement; but because of the attack, is instead made the acting platoon sergeant for a Marine infantry platoon.
Aaron Eckhart’s gruff veteran gets another shot at leading troops after a previous unseen mission in which he sacrificed the lives of his men to complete the job. Redemption it seems has never been so heavy-handed. The rest of the squad are lifted straight out of any other war film in the last 5 decades and stumble around the city’s landscape delivering horrible dialogue to one another so that the film-maker can concentrate on explosions and non-descript enemies.
Aside from the cookie-cutter characters, the action is decent enough, with plenty of reasonably tense fights. They’re not too tense of course because then Battle Los Angeles might somehow transcend the most obvious of narrative structures and the clichÃ©d everything else.
There are glimpses of a far more interesting film, but they’re stamped out with a clunky piece of dialogue, or an action scene we’ve seen hundreds of times before. Aaron Eckhart is as solid as you’d expect, but his agent really should be finding him more interesting roles than this cheap Clint Eastwood knock-off.
The big problem is that everything reminds you of another film that has done it before, and better. It’s got patriotic speeches (Independence Day), old veterans close to retirement (Heartbreak Ridge), big pitched battles against alien invaders (Starship Troopers) and a team of caricature marines (Aliens). Battle Los Angeles never deviates from its mission and it does exactly what it says it’s going to do and not one jot more.