Independence Day: Resurgence
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Sela Ward, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vivica A. Fox, Deobia Oparei, Chin Han, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope
We always knew they’d be back … we just didn’t count on humanity’s collective charisma being off-planet when they returned.
So while Earth’s defenders, veterans and noobs alike, put in a valiant effort, and the nasty alien invaders bring their A-game to wipe us all out, mankind’s latest last stand is curiously lacking in attitude and fortitude.
Maybe this can be partially attributed to the absence of Will Smith, who certainly provided a large dose of that in the original. But it’s not all due to him no-showing the main event.
It’s also because there’s a glaring lack of the little moments that helped make the original movie such a pop culture landmark, from the people partying on rooftops just before the aliens unleashed hell, to Mary McDonnell’s First Lady lovingly chiding her presidential hubby Bill Pullman for lying in her final moments, to James Rebhorn’s consistent @$$hat of a Secretary of Defense suddenly sitting down to pray, to Harry Connick Jr’s wise-ass sidekick shenanigans.
And even more than Smith, I really miss Randy Quaid as the slightly unhinged cropduster Russell Casse, a stand-up family guy in spite of all his troubles.
This time out, we get Liam Hemsworth as a rebellious fighter pilot relegated to flying “tugboats” on the Moon; Jessie Usher as the grown-up son of Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) from the first movie; and Maika Monroe as the grown-up daughter of Pullman’s President Whitmore.
Besides all three being fighter pilots, they also have one thing in common: they are just … bland. Mostly because they’re just written that way – or maybe “underwritten” would be more appropriate, and not in an insurance context.
If the current generation can’t do the job, well, then leave it to the oldsters to step in and save the day. But again, they achieve this mostly because we’re just familiar with these veterans from the first movie: Pullman, Jeff Goldblum’s nervy computer expert David Levinson, Brent Spiner’s twitchy scientist Dr Brakish Okun, Judd Hirsch’s, er, grandfatherly father figure Julius Levinson.
Two decades to the day after our little near-extinction event back in 1996, Earth is planning a big celebration. It has risen from the ashes, using borrowed alien technology to augment its arsenal and build orbital, lunar and other assorted space defence systems.
Of course, when the aliens return with a vengeance, you know all that is going to amount to nothing. Humanity finds its hopes crushed on the anniversary of its greatest triumph – I guess mean-spiritedness and a sense of irony are common traits among sentient life-forms.
Dropping landmarks from halfway across the world on London just before it’s about to be flattened anyway? That is just too human an action to be done by aliens, if you get my drift.
The differences between Independence Day and Resurgence perhaps also mirror the changes in the pace and tone of life in the intervening years.
The short attention span has grown even shorter, everyone’s on an accelerated schedule of some kind (even the aliens), and people just don’t seem to appreciate the value of a good build-up any more. “Must go faster. Must go faster!” as David Levinson said in the first movie.
Well, returning director Roland Emmerich and his numerous story collaborators were apparently all too happy to oblige, since they didn’t bother to weave in any of the kind of moments that gave the original the heart that complemented and even elevated its corny spectacle. (One plus point, they don’t repeat the silly “virus uploading” angle – “Without the oops,” as David also said back then.)
If you just want sprawling, unbelievable, physics-defying action accompanied by close shaves and unlikely heroism, well, there’s a lot of that to be found here – even nods to giant monsters and interstellar portals from the rest of Emmerich’s body of work.
But by not taking the time to let this sequel take its time, Emmerich & Co have not delivered anything close to a resurgence, merely a rehash.