Battle: Los Angeles

Despite their protestations to the contrary, Hollywood loves war films.  They also like science fiction movies and when a production combines both its movie makers go all out on ferocious spectacle.  Battle: Los Angeles sees this ramped at an accelerated pace with wicked beasties battling humanity’s finest protectors.  High art it isn’t but if one is looking for an absurd military shoot ‘em up they should receive a kick out of its wild extravaganzas.

Sworn to protect America at any cost the elite marine platoon headed by Sgt Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) is ready for action.  This they unexpectedly receive when an enemy no one could have foreseen invades their patch.  An alien invasion wasn’t on their job description when they reported for duty but Nantz and his fellow soldiers including Lt. Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) prepare to face off against the other-worldly menace with an armada of heavy duty fire-power.

It can’t be said Jonathan Liebesman directs Battle: Los Angeles as it heavily borrows from a multitude of computer games and movies.  The stoic hero is there, as are the tough soldiers willing to follow their leader to the end.  We’ve seen these clichés before and is a marker to how a film manages to present these in an original way.  Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t do this very well but is a decent action flick for those wanting to see an extra-terrestrial version of Black Hawk Down.

The characters are largely forgettable with Eckhart doing the heavy lifting in the acting department.  This he does with some dignity and anchors the awesome visuals one expects.   They special-effects certainly are eye-popping making one almost over-look some awful dialogue and poor characterisation.  It would have been better had the aliens been in centre of the action more as the element of suspense and danger is largely absent.  In its place are lots of noise and fire-power which gradually becomes tiresome.

Battle: Los Angeles is another addition to the sci-fi war genre although others have done it better.  Despite this it’s an ok time-waster with some dazzling sequences certain to ensure viewers remain alert until its explosive but predictable finale.

Rating out of 10:  5


Limitless is one of the first films offering Bradley Cooper a leading role.  Gaining early fame in the hit TV series Alias among others, his charms seem a natural fit as a cinematic light leading man.  Reasonably using his skills it affords him the opportunity to darken his image a little in a tale of deception and unfettered greed.

Unemployed writer Eddie (Bradley Cooper) accepts a friend’s invitation in trying a new experimental drug.  Discovering his intellect dramatically increases after taking it, he becomes wiz in the financial world.  An overnight success, his actions capture the attention of businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro).  Using Eddie for his own ends Carl’s needs mirror those of a cabal of hit-men, who are after Eddie for the drug.  On the run and in fear of his life, Eddie’s dream-life soon becomes an unrelenting nightmare.

Based on the book ‘Dark Fields’ by Alan Glynn, Limitless effectively adds another wrinkle to the thriller genre.  Which is a remarkable feat given the plot’s reliance on delving inside its hero’s mind.  Why it works is due to Neil Burger’s taut direction and visual flair as he utilizes its potential to its maximum.  His exploration into how a fully functioning mind can be used to one’s tactical advantage is finely wrapped into a mostly exciting chase formula.  Maintaining its energy until the end Cooper’s performance brings some genuine believability to the far-fetched thrills.

Although occasionally groaning under the weight of its ideas, Limitless moves at a fairly quick pace.  Whilst there are traditional villains herein it’s interesting to note its ‘hero’ is the main person doing a dis-service to himself due to his addiction to the drug.  Even if this plot strand is hardly subtle it increases the threat level against him quite well.  It may not be rocket science but Limitless does the job in offering some thought provoking issues while moving events along in stirring fashion.

Bradley Cooper should afford himself a smile that his latest venture isn’t a waste of time.  Fast moving and exciting, it should take him up further along the scale of movie stardom.

Rating out of 10:  7