It’s becoming more acceptable, one could say popular, to cast “Big Bad America” as the enemy in adventure, war and action movies. Our country’s image has sunk so low that people around the world are willing to spend billions to watch blue creatures defeat the American military on a planet that doesn’t even exist. America is cornered somewhat, cast too frequently as a bumbling, crumbling empire on its last legs. It tries desperately to retain its power, and reveals just how much moral fiber it has, or lacks, in the process.

Battle: Los Angeles

At Quality 16 and Rave
Columbia

So, frankly, it’s the perfect time for a movie like “Battle: Los Angeles.” This is a film with a $100 million budget about Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) commanding a group of Marines against extraterrestrials as our planet braces for extermination. That’s it. But a half-baked, didactic backstory about the aliens punishing us for our sins, or ignorance to their destructive power, isn’t the real story behind this war movie. The story of this movie is that, without warning, things start to suck, America gets its ass kicked and, for most of the film, it looks like all hope is lost.

That is, until one humbled American fighter (Eckhart) leads his band of brothers (and Michelle Rodriguez, “Machete”) to fight for something bigger than themselves.

That’s a lot of clichés for one sentence, but this movie just feels good. There’s no point in denying it. We don’t learn more than we need to about the minor characters either, except for — as in every war movie — one of the soldiers is about to get married, and Eckhart’s character is about to retire from the military on the day the aliens show up. It’s just nice to see America saving the world again.

This movie is a special effects tour-de-force with a good-looking cast, grunted, uber-masculine quotes, epic battle scenes and tearful goodbyes to the dead. It’s a burger and fries for a strong country that the world likes to poke fun at for the weight it’s put on over the years.

You leave “Battle: Los Angeles” with the same kind of nationalistic fervor that you probably haven’t felt from a movie since “Independence Day” — another film with basically the same plot, message and purpose. However, if “Independence Day” was supposed to direct our sentimental nationalism toward the accomplishments of the heroes we immortalize through holidays, “Battle: Los Angeles” is meant to show us that, even though the cast may be young, inexperienced and directionless, there is as much hope for the future of our nation as there’s ever been.

And, no matter what you think about America, or America’s standing in the world, if you don’t cheer after watching a dying Marine limp out in front of his enemy; scream his name, rank and serial number into the air; and blow himself up along with his enemy so that the rest of his friends can escape, then there’s something wrong with you.

But, of course, who knows if the filmmakers had anything but box office numbers on their minds when they created this story? Who knows what they think about America, or our country’s ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds? All they made was a film in which America is once again equated with “good.” It’s nice to know that there are still people who think that’s possible.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.