Independence Day Resurgence is a disaster flick cross-dressed as military science fiction.
Now, if you’re looking for some in-depth characterization and a vibrant plot… well, this isn’t what you’re looking for. Much like stumbling across Tim Curry in drag on Rocky Horror Picture Show, you can tell there’s something a little off about the thing.
While ID Resurgence is dressed up in a pastiche of patriotism and chest-thumping humanity is great… well, it almost feels like the movie doesn’t believe it. Humanity spends 20 years building up an awesome effort to defend itself… which it loses in under five minutes.
…Who does that? Come on, it’s military SF, if it’s a doomed effort, at least let us get to watch and celebrate the individuals who are about to die defending humanity, right? You can’t just show off all this drool-worthy military hardware and then not even give us a chance
to see it really perform! That would be like if Jayne never got to use Vera after his awesome introduction!
And then there’s this weird sort of planetary government. We’re told that humanity has united and there’s no war and blah blah blah… oh, look, there’s some kind of African warlord whose people don’t seem at all friendly. But we’re unified, no more nations? But there are still Chinese and they don’t seem to get along well with the Americans. But there’s no nations… right?
It’s sort of hard to get fired up about a global government that doesn’t seem to really do anything. They did a cool memorial ceremony… they seem to sort of be in charge of the military, and they have a world council. We don’t even really see a name, although the rebuilt White House seems to house the President of this world government.
And the plot overall is… well, predictable. There’s the aliens. There’s our pathetic attempt at defense. There’s the countdown to world destruction. There’s the crazy last-ditch hail-mary play to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It feels like someone took a list of Science Fiction movie tropes and started checking boxes. (Giant alien queen, need one of those, school bus full of kids in danger’s way, need one of those too, hey, destroy two major cities for the price of one, sign me up!… oh, look, a special on nuclear warheads that don’t actually do anything, we definitely need a few dozen of those…)
Now that I’ve bashed the movie a bit, I’ll go into the good. This is a fun time. There’s explosions. There’s heroics. There’s sacrifice and emotional bits… and there’s a great sense of humor. This isn’t a movie that takes itself too seriously. The heroes are cracking jokes in the midst of the destruction… and that kind of humor is what gets you through such desperate situations.
The movie also has a sense of optimism. There’s no one crying out to give up, to give in. Everyone struggles to find solutions, to find a way to save humanity, right up to the very end.
In all, though, it never rises to the potential that they had with a strong cast and a big budget. ID Resurgence could have been so much more… and for that I’m left disappointed.