Editor’s Notes: Independence Day: Resurgence is currently open in wide theatrical release.
Twenty years ago, a group of insurgent outsiders had America, and conversely the entire planet, at their knees. Their presence was a complete shock, yet as soon as they unleashed a torrent of destruction, all we could do was stare. Dumbfounded. Enraptured. Never before had we witnessed something so cataclysmic, so spectacular, so beyond comprehension. Now, they make their belated return. Anyway, enough about director Roland Emmerich et al; what of their beguilingly idiotic sci-fi sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence?
As a wholly unnecessary continuation of a dubious nostalgia property, replete with familiar cast members and a plot so familiar you’ll swear blind to a case of déjà vu . . .
As a wholly unnecessary continuation of a dubious nostalgia property, replete with familiar cast members and a plot so familiar you’ll swear blind to a case of déjà vu, Resurgence has some fairly hefty shoes to fill. Although by no means the iconic classic to which it owes its name (and inevitably titanic box-office returns), Emmerich’s latest disasterpiece is a surprisingly affecting meditation on legacy, rivalry and unity in the face of adversity.
Jeff Goldblum returns as Jeff-Goldblum-as-David-Levinson, a neurotic scientist assigned to the Earth Space Defence, a narratively-extraneous yet commercially-beneficial American/Chinese cooperative dedicated to preparing the generation of orphans left behind after the first invasion for an (allegedly) inevitable second wave.
Along for the ride are the returning Bill Pullman (former President Thomas Whitmore, a man seemingly incapable of communicating via anything but vague grunts and inopportune shouting fits) and Brent Spiner, playing the eccentric Dr Brakish Okurn. Unbelievably, Okurn’s miraculous arousal from a 20-year coma, on the eve of Earth’s annihilation, ranks roughly 46th on this profoundly idiotic movie’s list of Implausible Plot Points. New recruits include a hunky maverick (Liam Hemsworth; the most charismatic he’s ever likely to be), a hunky maverick with a grudge against the aforementioned hunky maverick (Not-Will-Smith Jessie Usher) and hunky maverick #1’s fiancée (Maika Monroe, evidently experiencing a dry spell of interesting genres for which she’s known).
For all its innumerable faults, there’s an undeniable charm to Resurgence that ultimately proves irresistible, particularly in the gleefully silly final reel.
For all its innumerable faults, there’s an undeniable charm to Resurgence that ultimately proves irresistible, particularly in the gleefully silly final reel. Many characters and their liberally-defined arcs feel wholly mechanical, yet it’s hard not to be swept up in their histrionic hijinks. Goldblum and Hemsworth, in particular, share a natural rapport strong enough to transcend the woefully poor exposition. Thunderously obvious highlights include “You’ve been in a coma for 20 years” and “I know how much you loved flying”, as if Emmerich and his four (!) have exactly zero concept of subtlety.
Head-smashingly dim-witted blockbusters are a dime a dozen nowadays, yet it’s in execution where Resurgence makes its mark on a saturated landscape. Emmerich has an impeccable eye for the weight and scale of mass destruction; many scenes leave the audience breathless with the sheer scope of orchestrated mayhem so effortlessly conveyed. Few filmmakers can rival the German maestro’s immense visual virtuosity. It may not be high art, but nothing if not a thrill to watch.
At its core, Resurgence is a passionate plea for a world defined by selfless collectivism, pure-hearted optimism and global unity. On both a micro (an old rivalry resolved) and macro (nations banding together despite petty differences) level, this deceptively simple delight represents just what humanity can achieve in the face of apocalyptic adversity. It’s a straightforward message, one relayed countless times before, yet one we need more than ever in these politically divisive, economically turbulent and post-Brexit times. Hopeful, good-natured and hugely enjoyable, Independence Day: Resurgence is big-budget studio fare done right.
Hopeful, good-natured and hugely enjoyable, Independence Day: Resurgence is big-budget studio fare done right.