Considering that this movie is inspired by the board game of the same name, it’s not half bad! It’s a summer action flick, entertaining but predictable and not very deep, exactly as advertised. It’s fun to watch and there were actually a couple of great lesson moments in between the gunfire and explosions.
The story centers around Alex Hopper, (Taylor Kitsch), an impulsive and immature individual who doesn’t seem interested in putting his considerable skills to good use. We are introduced to a drunken Alex getting in trouble with the law over shenanigans involving a chicken burrito, after which his brother (Commander Stone Hopper, played by Alexander Skarsgård) insists that Alex join the navy and straighten out his life.
The relationship between the Hopper brothers is truly loving, in that Stone recognizes that the best thing for Alex is not always what the younger brother wants. When Alex gets into trouble and comes to his brother hoping to escape the consequences, saying, “You’ve gotta make some calls,” Stone replies, “Who do I call to teach you humility? I’m sorry, man, I just don’t have that number.”
Alex’s commanding officer, Admiral Shane, (played by Liam Neeson), is equally blunt in his assessment of the brash young lieutenant, telling him, “You’re a very smart individual, with a very weak character and poor decision-making skills.” I love the inclusion of these lines of dialogue, because while we often see movies with “heroes” that are similarly immature, their reckless and selfish actions are sometimes celebrated or downplayed. It’s nice to see Alex’s character accurately distilled within the film itself.
**SPOILER ALERT** At the end of the film Alex, having helped averted potential global catastrophe, feels entitled to a blessing from the Admiral to marry his daughter. To my delight, the response is, “No…Saving the world is one thing, Hopper. My daughter is quite another.” This is terrific, because Alex didn’t really demonstrate much change in his major character flaws throughout the drama. He learned to be less selfish and rely more on teamwork, and he used creative tactical strategies, but he didn’t act less brashly or control his temper. At one point he had to be reminded three times by inferior officers that there were sailors in the water and the ship’s duty was to prioritize rescuing them rather than pursuing a vengeful and reckless enemy attack.
The Admiral’s response to Alex’s assumption of deserved respect because he “saved the world” reminded me of Galatians 6:3, which says
If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
As well as 1 Samuel 16:7, when God sends Samuel to anoint a new king and the prophet assumes it should be one of David’s older, brawnier brothers, but God says,
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
I don’t think that the character of Alex is completely without good inner qualities, but I think God would agree with the Admiral’s viewpoint that acts of bravery and heroism are not a substitute for character and integrity. And, the Admiral does invite Alex to join him for lunch, and it’s implied that he will agree to let him marry his daughter. But not because he “saved the world,” and not without some scrutiny. **END SPOILER**
This film also features several characters who are veterans, one of who has lost limbs and is struggling to regain a sense of purpose, and others who were actual navy veterans, as this quote from an interview with Skarsgård highlights:
Several Navy veterans are also featured as extras in the film. At the “Battleship” premiere, Skarsgard said, “Those veterans that are on the ship that my character referred to they’re real vets and they served on the [USS] Missouri.”
“Some of them going back to the second World War and it’s just a very humbling experience to be there with them on that ship,” he added. “The stories those guys told us were just amazing and I’ll never forget it.” (source)
All of these veterans, as well as the diverse personalities on the ships, end up having to work together, and their success demonstrates the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:21-22 on how there are no non-essential parts to the body of Christ.
Another time, (perhaps on my pagelady blog), I would like to discuss the treatment of the aliens in this film, because I found it strange that not a single character seemed to question whether or not the right course of action was to automatically try to destroy them all rather than attempt diplomacy or reconciliation, but on the whole I would say that this film, though little more than mindless action, had pleasantly surprising, mostly positive messages.