A world at war: “Battle Los Angeles”

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By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer

Fair warning – if your nerves are easily jangled, stay far away from the new action flick “Battle: Los Angeles.” 15 minutes after the opening credits I was chewing at my fingernails. By the middle of the film, my hands were actually shaking. Right from the beginning, this movie takes off and doesn’t let up until the final credits roll.

“Battle: Los Angeles,” follows a small platoon of marines who become the last line of resistance as alien invaders come to earth and begin colonizing. The U.S. military sends the platoon  to defend LA after 20 cities in 17 countries are invaded. The platoon is led by 2ndLt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriquez) and the clear hero, Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart,) who is planning to retire after 20 years and suffered terrible losses on his last tour.

The platoon is sent into the heart of Santa Monica to rescue a group of civilians at a police station with only three hours before the city is leveled (the military plans to bomb the town to destroy the aliens).

One of the things that makes “Battle” so startling is the fact that the action doesn’t take place on dusty deserted streets in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s sunny LA, and some of the earliest scenes take place in alleys between beautiful beach homes. There is a breathtaking scene as the marines fly over the beach and realize that their world at home now looks like a war zone and explosions sound off around their planes.

Eckhart, known for his more quiet, independent work (except for his performance in “The Dark Night” as Two Face) makes a wonderful action hero. With his handsome, weathered, every-man face I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who would follow him into battle – and I’m a pacifist.

“Battle: Los Angeles,” will inevitably draw comparisons to “Independence Day,” which seems to have become the mother of all invasion movies. But unlike that movie, “Battle” doesn’t feature grandiose speeches. This movie works best when the dialogue is kept to a minimum. Eckhart’s lucky he’s a good actor because he makes lines such as, “You can go left or you can go right, I don’t care, just make a decision” work very well.

But the same thing that made “Independence Day” work is what makes this movie work – there’s heart and believable characters that you actually want to know.  These are people who are going to go down swinging. This is a down-and-dirty action movie that doesn’t have time for heart-wrenching plot lines. Even when there is emotional drama, not much time is wasted on it and the film gets right back into the action.

The movie works on a lot of levels. Most people are going to go into this movie expecting a conventional action sci-fi thriller, but you’ll get a lot more than that if you keep an open mind. On top of great action scenes, you’ll find a tightly wound movie with a lot to love. Just make sure your nerves can handle it.

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