Despite what Boris Johnson may say, the latest Independence Day is not the British people voting for Brexit. Having said that, the movie does feature a scene in which London is in chaos, Parliament collapses, everything is in free fall and no one seems to have a plan for what to do next. So I guess I can’t be too sure. In fact, now that I think about it, “Resurgence” does sound like a single-word synopsis of the political career of Nigel Farage. (Although a few shorter, terser words spring to mind much faster.)
Once again, Independence Day sees our blue and green planet attacked by blue and green aliens. This time, however, they’re after the planet’s iron core. Our core is, of course, not a hard core – it’s molten – but they nonetheless go about it in a hard-core way: wiping out half the Northern Hemisphere. The movie doesn’t care to explain why the aliens are doing this. Instead, all this “iron core” business cynically serves as a ticking time bomb designed to awkwardly force a sense of jeopardy into the film’s final act. But credit to the aliens for their endeavour. They at least struck while the iron was hot.
“Resurgence” is set exactly twenty years after the original Independence Day – the movie that is, not the fourth of July 1776; although that probably would have made a more interesting watch. It’s also every bit as cheesy, every bit as ridiculous, and every bit as jingoistic as the original. Except in this new instalment, Will Smith is noticeably absent. Presumably because he read the script.
“Resurgence” is a nostalgia pic, and, as such, the plot, tone and absurdity are all in keeping with director Roland Emmerich’s original. It has the rookie pilot fighting for his country, just dying to get back home to his girl. It has the stirring messages delivered by people in power calling for solidarity as violins swell. It has the love interest/object of paternal pride. It has the bumbling scientist who’s the butt of all jokes – and whose own butt is used as a literal joke.
And the fun doesn’t stop there.
There are H.R. Giger rip-offs; plenty of people explaining the plot to one another; bizarre character motivations (like deliberately locking yourself in a room with an alien), and some terrifically bad dialogue – the kind of dialogue you only ever hear in these types of movies. Faceless people say things like, “alter its current velocity”, when they mean to say, “slow down.” And then there’s the line delivered by Jeff Goldblum as famous monuments are destroyed around him: “They like to get the landmarks.” People all over are dying. Surely we should care. Now is not the time to be flippant, Jeff. Except, why not? Badly handled destruction of this scale on-screen makes us completely apathetic to the unseen death of millions.
Basically, “Resurgence” is the same movie as the original but half the fun, twice the spectacle, and ten times as big. The movie reminds you of this not just through the CGI, but by actually forcing characters at various points to say, “This one is definitely bigger than the last one.”
We get it.
None of the characters in this film have any real arc at all. Still, Jeff Goldblum is great at being Jeff Goldblum and nobody has a cooler presence and softer voice than Charlotte Gainsbourg. Pity Goldblum and Gainsbourg can’t attempt to save the movie the way they attempt to save the world. Among the film’s more naff characters are an African “warlord” (DeObia Oparei) that has somehow managed to decipher the alien’s language (don’t ask), and the incredibly annoying suit, Floyd Rosenberg (played by Nicolas Wright), who functions solely as awkward comic relief. Although here, interestingly, he is the absolute spit of John Oliver. Honest.
Julius Levinson (aka Goldblum’s fictional dad, played by Judd Hirsch) is possibly, however, the most useless character in the whole film, merely serving as yet another direct link to the original movie. He accomplishes absolutely nothing other than jeopardise the lives of a bunch of kids by driving them in a bus towards a war-zone. This image could only have been made dumber if written on the side of the bus was the phrase “We send the EU £350 million a week”.
You can’t really blame “Resurgence” for being dumb. It’s a sequel to an already dumb movie. But you can blame it for being boring. It’s really quite amazing: despite all the talent, despite all the spectacle, the fancy fourth of July fireworks Emmerich throws at the screen all manage to completely fizzle out.