Battleship scores a direct hit
Starring Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, and Brooklyn Decker. Rated PG. Now playing
As Hollywood pitches go, it must have seemed as absurd as past attempts to bring Mouse Trap and Parcheesi to the big screen. Considering that it takes longer to complete than most SAT exams, Hasbro’s classic naval combat game of Battleship doesn’t seem like the stuff action-packed blockbusters are borne out of. But holy sheepshit if director Peter Berg and his eye-candy-heavy cast don’t pull this one out of the bilge water, with Battleship guaranteed to go down as one of the loudest, most riveting and retina-scorching, unashamedly populist movies of 2012. By the time the epic clouds of Mark 7 gun smoke have cleared, you won’t know whether to flip the bird at outer space or enlist in the navy.
Recognizing that ships blowing up endlessly gets old fast (hello, Pearl Harbor), Battleship jacks up the action by giving its sailors something interesting to blast away at. The first half-hour sets up a love story between U.S. navy officer Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch, who’s as believably messed up as he is insanely hot) and physical therapist Sam (Brooklyn Decker, who’s just plain insanely hot). With that business out of the way, it’s on to fireballs and eye-poppingly excellent gadgetry, as aliens from a galaxy far, far away crash on planet Earth and then make a great case they’ve studied every one of the blueprints for Hasbro’s Transformers.
Setting Battleship apart from, well, the Transformers franchise is that there’s actually some intelligence involved here; instead of a one-note ode to mass destruction, we get a film that requires the characters to use their brains, with—believe it or not—strategy affecting the outcome more than brute firepower. Throw in a heartwarming shout-out to the servicemen of WWII, a seaworthy supporting cast (including a tough-as-bullets Rihanna), and redemption-themed subplots that will make the saltiest of sailors mist up, and you’ve got an unexpected genre classic. Against impossible odds, Battleship scores a direct hit.
Watch the trailer for Battleship.