Run time: 116 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th March 2011
Box Office USA: $83.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $202.5M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, Original Film
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 69 Rotten: 130
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Producer: Jeffrey Chernov, Ori Marmur, Neal H. Moritz
Screenwriter: Christopher Bertolini
Starring: Aaron Eckhart as Michael Nantz, Ramón Rodríguez as William Martinez, Will Rothhaar as Cpl. Lee Imlay, Cory Hardrict as Cpl. Jason Lockett, Jim Parrack as Peter Kerns, Gino Anthony Pesi as Cpl. Nick Stavrou, Ne-Yo as Kevin Harris, James Hiroyuki Liao as Steven Mottola, Bridget Moynahan as Michelle, Noel Fisher as Pfc. Shaun Lenihan, Adetokumboh M'Cormack as Corpsman Jibril Adukwu, Bryce Cass as Hector Rincon, Michael Peña as Joe Rincon, Michelle Rodriguez as Elena Santos, Joey King as Kirsten, Neil Brown Jr. as LCpl. Richard Guerrero, Taylor Handley as LCpl. Corey Simmons, Lucas Till as Cpl. Scott Grayston, Kenneth Brown Jr. as Cpl. Richard Oswald, Jadin Gould as Amy, Joe Chrest as 1st Sgt. John Roy, E. Roger Mitchell as Company Captain, Rus Blackwell as Lt. Col. K.N. Ritchie, Susie Abromeit as Amanda, Brandi Coleman as Cherise, Elizabeth Keener as Kathy Martinez, Jessica Heap as Jessy, David Jensen as Psychiatrist, Stacey Turner as Reporter on TV, Tom Hillmann as Reporter on TV, Lena Clark as Chris, Jamie Norwood as Flower Shop Employee, Todd Cochran as Command Hangar Marine, Nzinga Blake as Adukwu's Sister, Taryn Southern as Reporter on Beach, James D. Dever as Sgt. Major, Alex Aristidis as Beach Goer (uncredited), Charlotte Biggs as Emergency Medical Tech. (uncredited), Ava Bogle as Beach Girl 1 (uncredited), Beau Brasseaux as Marine (uncredited), Dane Brown as Firefighter (uncredited), Grant Case as Marine (uncredited), Kurt Deville as Marine (uncredited), Joshua Farcone as Dead Civilian (uncredited), Alex Froman as Marine (uncredited), Zander Gerhardt as Dead Civilian (uncredited), Emily D. Haley as Citizen / Dead Citizen (uncredited), Nick Jones Jr. as Marine (uncredited), Philip Lawrence as U.S. Marine (uncredited), Tony Mccullough as LAPD Officer Boggs (uncredited), Keith Middlebrook as Steve Johinson (uncredited), Courtney Munch as Marine Crew Chief (uncredited), Gustavo I. Ortiz as Doctor Running Away (uncredited), Jim Palmer as Crew Chief (uncredited), Michelle Pierce as Shelly (uncredited), Philippe Radelet as Civilian (uncredited), Lawanda Smith as Civilian (uncredited), David Speed as Gary (uncredited), Peyton Whitcomb as Extra (uncredited), Michael Wozniak as Beach Dude (uncredited), Marlon Young as Sergeant Major (uncredited), Lynette Zumo as Dead Civilian (uncredited)
Staff-Sergeant Nantz (Eckhart) is retiring from the Marines on the day of an alien attack on 12 major cities. A shady past means his new troops don't trust him, including the expectant father (Ramon Rodriguez), the shell-shocked guy (Parrack), the buddies (Pesi and Ne-Yo), the bitter one (Hardrict), the bright young thing (Rothhaar), the virgin (Fisher) and the foreigner (M'Cormack). As the assault hits Santa Monica, they're sent to rescue trapped civilians (including Pena and Moynahan). They also team up with an Air Force officer (Michelle Rodriguez) to find a weakness in the alien defence.
Each back-story is outlined quickly in a comically feeble attempt to give these guys something worth fighting for besides Freedom with a capital F. Writer Bertolini and director Liebesman can't be bothered to build actual characters when getting on with the action is much more fun, with imagery so jarringly urgent that we barely register the expansive effects. But this gives a pleasingly rough-and-tumble feel to the film, including some surprisingly tactile touches to the aliens (although giving them purpose or personality was clearly a step too far).
Meanwhile, the irony is completely lost on the filmmakers, who could have actually made the film much more interesting by having these American Iraq-invasion veterans realise the implications as they scrabble around to fend off an invading force with, yes, improvised explosive devices. But no, the film is packed with gung-ho military jargon, fake emotion, resounding arrogance and stiff dialog that's packed with cliches, all of which is cut and pasted from other movies.
That said, the movie's urgent Hurt Locker-like visual approach manages to draw us in, papering over some head-scratching lapses in logic (just how does the command centre get underground?). There's something rather enjoyable about a movie so blunt and chaotic that it seems shallow even compared to a videogame.
And it proves that there's a very fine line indeed between an over-serious action epic and a silly pastiche.