If the alien-invasion flick often looks like a video game, that’s because it’s written like one (as in barely), as a loose string of missions for its gung-ho Marines: Rescue civilians from a police station; take them to safety; destroy the mother ship. That’s the simple-structured path for our cardboard, interchangeable heroes, led by a stoic, ever-grimacing Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) as Staff Sgt. Nantz, after aliens lay waste to several locales around the world, La-La Land included.
As Billy Joel once sang early in his career, say goodbye to Hollywood.
Employing a shaky-cam style reminiscent of first-person-shooter games, director Jonathan Liebesman (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”) puts his cast through nearly two solid hours of rat-a-tat-tat and budda-budda-budda, all in a messy manner making it difficult to tell who’s who. When this sci-fi actioner says “Battle,” it means it, but at the expense of any kind of story. One doesn’t expect much from effects-driven efforts like this, but even I was astonished at how little it aims to tell. All it cares about it aiming to shoot. That quickly wears audiences out.
Bonus points if you believe it ends in a setup for endless sequels, from “Battle: New York City” to “Battle: Sheboygan.” Retreat! —Rod Lott