I suppose that every American actor would love the chance to play at being John Wayne or Clint Eastwood - square jawed heroics, taciturn delivery, the opportunity to fight with honour and take one for the team, outwitting enemies and beating them with gusto while attaining glory in the process. Be it a war picture or a western, the possibility for unbridled and unembarrassed heroism is something few performers could resist.
Add sensitive Eckhart to that number. As Marine Sergeant Nantz, he has led his platoon to disgrace in a previous mission and is about to be retired out of the army. But wait, can he redeem himself? After all, a number of meteors are crashing to earth and it looks as if the planet's moribund defences cannot save its inhabitants from being slaughtered by nasty aliens. A mother ship in various countries sets forth its drone planes from which the aliens erupt when their vehicles land. California is an unfortunate victim of these marauding invaders and sunny Santa Monica has been badly desecrated by them.
Most of the survivors have been evacuated, but a hardy few, including veterinarian Michelle (Moynahan), have been hiding at a police station. Nantz is given a second chance by joining a crack team of commandos led by young, indecisive and nervous Second Lieutenant Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) who are sent in to retrieve them. The courageous soldiers give their all to Nantz, who assumes control of the mission, displaying foolhardy but gung ho determination in trying to locate the aliens' power source while using all means of weaponry and explosives at his disposal.
It's Black Hawk Down meets Cloverfield - but not in a good way. This risible, jingoistic sci-fi war film is a complete load of crap. The characters are predictably one dimensional, the script is hopelessly cliched, the dialogue laugh out loud funny, the tension and excitement non existent, the relentlessly fast cutting becomes tiresome and overall one can only gape at the enterprise's sheer awfulness. Eckhart must rue the day he accepted this one. His impassioned playing goes for naught when saddled with the stodgy and laughable lines he has to spout.
The technical department need not be shamed though. The CGI effects all look efficiently done, though visually LA is a mightily dull place architecturally to be destroyed. All in all, it's one of those gloriously bad movies to savour - a moronic exercise in patriotic militaristic fervour that makes one howl. Appalling.
EXTRAS ★★★ A series of behind-the-scenes featurettes: Behind The Battle (6:44); Directing The Battle (6:33); Aliens In LA (17:57); Preparing For Battle (5:15); Boot Camp (10:18); Creating LA In LA (5:46); and The Freeway Battle (5:18). There's also Command Control, a picture-in-picture feature which gives you storyboard comparisons during the film; and the trailer.