While it attempts to recapture what made the original film so fun, Independence Day: Resurgence feels like nothing more than a TV movie for Syfy with a big budget. The poor writing and acting within the film compounds with campy visuals and a nonsense plot. Where in the first film you felt something for the heroes and the struggle of the story, it feels as though the screenwriters are scrambling to fill the film’s two hour runtime while checking boxes of the worst science fiction tropes along the way.
While in no way a work of profound art, the original Independence Day felt like a wholly realized and carefully made film. It has given us some of the most iconic moments in film – and internet – history with the breathtaking shots of landmark destruction, done practically, with brilliant one liners from the films wonderful cast. Resurgence, however, seems to throw away the themes of realistic peril and the wonder of humanity for a two hour video game cutscene built to set up a sequel that promises to be even more of a let down.
The film is set, appropriately, twenty years after what the movie refers to “The Battle of 1996” which details the events of the first film. Now the head of earth defense, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has reverse engineered the alien technology in an attempt to prepare the planet for the aliens inevitable return. We are briefly told that Captain Hiller (Will not-appearing-in-this-film Smith) was killed in some kind of accident. Unfortunately the movie spent less time on this point than I have explaining it to you. In his stead, his son Captain Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) spends time as a secondary character doing little else but flying a plane around and delivering random pieces of exposition. Instead of he or any other original character taking the lead, a pilot named Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) takes the lead as comedian, undefeatable hero, and love interest despite his character having nothing to do with the original story, any connection to original characters, or any explanation as to who he is or why he is there.
While there is plenty of hate to go around with this movie I have to think that what that dragged this film down for me was the awful writing paired with some terrible performances. The current president, President Lanford (Sela Ward), seems to exist only to make a couple bad decisions, deliver a couple terrible one liners, and then disappear. Jessie T. Usher fills out his completely one dimensional character with as little energy as possible, and Liam Hemsworth feels like he couldn’t care less about being in the movie. Even Jeff Goldblum is only there to deliver one or two lines before becoming inconsequential.
For me, this movie was a failure from start to finish. With the tremendous over use of video game special effects and tenuous grasp of science fiction, this film will barely be remembered as anything more than a straight to DVD mess that somehow made it to the screen. Personally I would save the ten bucks and allow this would be franchise to crumble before we are made to sit through a third installment.