Independence Day: Resurgence is a dumb movie. It's a really, really, really dumb movie that includes a scene where Liam Hemsworth pees on an alien's ship while giving said alien the middle finger. It's kind of hard to wrap your mind around just how dumb Roland Emmerich's sequel to his 1996 film is.
Independence Day: Resurgence is also a fun, totally ridiculous summer blockbuster that's just confident and loony enough to succeed.
From the moment the movie begins until the last few minutes, Resurgence is non-stop action, with just a few moments here and there to allow for a cathartic release before Emmerich jumps back into it. In many ways, that non-stop action works to the film's advantage. If Emmerich had decided to slow down even a little bit, the nonsensical aspects of the film, of which there are many, would be easier to spot and call out.
Resurgence is a movie that begs its audience not to take it seriously
Resurgence is a strange film in that it's not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not a, "this is so atrociously awful that it's fun to watch" type of movie, either. It finds its successful moments in its goofiness and unwillingness to sacrifice those strange moments for a more serious or dramatic undertone.
Resurgence is a movie that begs its audience not to take it seriously because it doesn't take itself seriously. Emmerich is pretty self-aware of just how ludicrous Resurgence is and plays into that, almost poking fun at himself and the film while making it as fun as it turned out to be.
Resurgence is a sequel to Emmerich's 1996 film, Independence Day, and the film picks up exactly 20 years after the first round of alien attacks devastated Earth. Since then, things have changed. Nations are still sovereign but countries are working together more than ever before to unite all of Earth's citizens.
There are teams stationed permanently on the moon to keep an eye out for future possible alien attacks and make sure that, if need be, there was somewhere for the most executive of government officials to fly to in the case of another disaster.
Of course, some things are still the same, and that's where Resurgence focuses a lot of its attention. Jeff Goldblum is back as scientist David Levinson, Bill Pullman is back as President Whitmore and Brent Spiner reprises his role as Dr. Brakish Okun, and Emmerich doesn't want you to forget for a second that they were a part of the original alien-fighting team. Hell, they even managed to reference Will Smith an absurd amount of times before finally focusing on his fighter pilot son, Dillon.
That's perhaps Resurgence's biggest problem. Emmerich doesn't know how much time to focus on the former action heroes of the '90s and the new heroes of the franchise going forward. It's all a part of the film's convoluted storyline that, again, if you actually pay attention to, is hard to dismiss as anything more than an unsuccessful attempt to capture some of the glory from the first film.
It's also one of those rare movies where you can tell the cast is having fun with what they're doing. At this point in his career, Jeff Goldblum is essentially playing Jeff Goldblum, but there's a comfortableness he has walking around the set, taking on this character that he played two decades ago, that makes the movie feel like you're seeing an old friend for the first time in a while. He doesn't bulk up his performance or try to make it more dramatic than it needs to be, but instead enjoys being back in the boots of Levinson, visibly having fun talking about aliens and returning to this version of Earth.
The same goes for newcomers, like Hemsworth. This won't be Hemsworth's career defining performance — or at least, he better hope it won't be — but Hemsworth's joy and excitement in the role is infectious and it's hard not to root for him when he's on screen. He lets himself take on the ludicrous nature of the film, embraces it and exploits it to make it that much more unbelievable.
Resurgence is the type of mindless self-indulgence that I want in a summer blockbuster
It's difficult to talk about what makes Resurgence great, because quite frankly, nothing about it is even good, but there's a feeling you get when you're sitting in a theater, and the sound of aliens screeching comes in just after the roar of a sci-fi fighter jet, that is almost indescribable. Resurgence is going to be the type of movie that divides people — think Pacific Rim — and those that don't enjoy mindless, explosive films are probably going to hate every second of it.
But for myself, someone who loves watching action escalate until you think there's nowhere else for the movie to go, Resurgence is the type of mindless self-indulgence that I want in a summer blockbuster. For just over two hours, that's exactly what Resurgence provides.
Independence Day: Resurgence is an homage to blockbusters of the '90s, and in many ways, Emmerich is trying to recapture that outlandish experience for a new generation of movie-goers. While the script may be bad, the acting subpar and the story questionable at best, there's a lot of heart and fun in Resurgence that blockbusters don't seem to have anymore and it's refreshing to find that type of downright dumb action still has a place in cinema today.