Saturday, April 30, 2011

Battlefield: Los Angeles (2011)

I had wanted to see this film for sometime now, and heard good things about the film.  To say that I wasn't disappointed is an understatement.  Battlefield: Los Angeles is a film that brings chills to one soul.  It is a film that is quite relevant in today's world were we Americans find ourselves engaged in several different wars.  Maybe because of the current events this film hits home.    The plot is simple:

"A Marine Staff Sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) ,who has just had his retirement approved goes back into the line of duty to assist a 2nd Lieutenant and his platoon as they fight to reclaim the city of Los Angeles from alien invaders".

The movie starts with the invasion, and then flashes back to introduce us to our platoon.  We have the marine who is married and expecting, the one who is going to get married, the big strong marine who feels protective of his buddy who is marrying, and the marine of the dead brother who died under the leadership of staff Sargent (Aaron Eckhart).  There are others too, and they show up in the movie later.  But we are given a sort of intro to the characters who we will care for, so when and if their deaths happen we the audience feel something.  Jonathan Liebesman is the director of the film and he does a competent job in setting this all up.  The cinematography is rough on purpose.  The footage looks like combat photography from every war  we've waged in the 20th and 21st century.  I could have done with a little less shake and bounce as I call it, but it is effective, and makes you feel that your in the action.

Aaron Eckhart gives a great performance here, and it should be noted it's hard to show character without dialogue.  His face is very expressive, and we see his pain and feel it.  We also feel his anger at the alien invaders, and we see how combat can be so adrenaline driven.  In one scene he takes out a drone alien ship, and when he comes back we see his hand twitching in a jolt of nerves, and adrenaline.  We really get it, and his suttle performance really adds depth to the film.  There's Michelle Rodriguez who gives a tough and commanding performance as Tech Sargent Elana Santos.  Even Michael Peña gives a good solid performance here.  These performances are what makes the movie solid.  The special effects are eye startling, and the enemy look and sound frightening, but it is our platoon that moves the movie forward.

I know a lot of people will say it's like a video game, and it's a shooter type game.  I do see parables in that argument, but the film is entertaining.  I would not take away that excitement, and cinematic tension that the movie produces by just saying it's a video game.  There's more to this movie then just that.  The characters are what brings the story home for us the audience. 

I said that this movie has relevance in today's current events because there are wars happening now, and TV news shows us daily those who are involved in it.  Seeing and setting the film on American soil brings the combat home to us.  It's not in the desert or jungle somewhere else happening to other people.  In this movie it's Los Angeles and it's our own people being shot and killed, and our own city being destroyed.  For the duration of the film it humanizes war, and shows victims.  Both men, women, and children.  Of course we all know war is terrible, but do we actually feel this if we haven't lived it.  Think of generations of children cowering in fear from bullets, and bomb blasts.  Think what we take for granted and then show how a war destroys all of that.  In a way this film does just that.  It does so by not preaching, but by showing, and making the film as visceral as war can be.  In this post 911 era it hits home all too well.

Maybe I'm reading way too much into it, and what it really is is a film that is a very, very entertaining.  But given the times that we live in I think the film has more meaning.  I defiantly recommend the film, and wouldn't hesitate to see it again.


Steven Gladstone said...

Character? Conflict, Change? Growth?
Or is it a good exciting roller coaster ride? Better than "Hurt Locker?"

Karl said...

It's typical Hollywood formula stuff, but it's well acted, and the pace of the movie is well done. Different then "Hurt Locker". The film is emotional to me only when I think of whats happening now and the horrors a soldier sees and feels on the battlefield.