‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ or — Legitimately Fascist by Accident or Design?
I knew ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ (2016) was going to be awful going in and boy, ain’t that the truth! It’s simply a cynical retread of the original except on a bigger scale and with diminishing returns. It has none of the charm of the first ‘Independence Day’ (1996) and that film had bugger all charm as it was anyway. Yet the overriding question I had watching the sequel was, apart from how everyone has obviously aged a lot apart from Judd Hirsch who somehow looks almost exactly the same, “Does this film know it is rabidly fascist?”
The only good part of the original ‘Independence Day’ was the initial build up. Emmerich did a decent job of teasing the suspense before releasing it in an orgasm of spectacle. This was quite novel back in 1996 before everyone realised that this was ALL Emmerich could do — impressive openings followed by unbearable shit. After that ‘ID4’ becomes a boring, interminable, clichéd riddled slog that gets worse on repeat viewings.
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ simply repeats all the beats of the original but with an unearned smugness, thinking that just by rehashing the previous movie that the audience will respond with the joy of recognition, like an excited dog seeing its owner again after several weeks away. The result is the opposite as this movie functions on nothing but pure repulsion… like an owner finding their dog has shat in their bed after several weeks away.
It’s quite something to witness because the script to ‘IDR’ is so clunky, so ham-fistedly written, that you can clearly see all the parts moving; ‘A’ must lead to ‘B’ so ‘C’ can happen etc. This is connect the dots storytelling so, ironically, could be a good example of what to watch if you want to know how a Hollywood script is put together. It’s bloody god-awful but you can see that this is exactly what a producer and studio exec expect a script to look like so you might want to take notes if you want to make it in L.A.. This is worrying as you get the feeling this piece of crap was exactly what Emmerich was aiming to make. The fact this movie is so bad was not a mistake, and that’s horrifying!
So it’s a soulless, noisy, amped-up version of the first movie so I don’t need to say anything about it other than that as that’s what you’ll get. Yet what baffled me was the ending which is as fascistic as ‘Triumph of The Will’ (1935), or least I think so. It goes like this -
About halfway through the movie the President of the United States (who also, as in all Hollywood movies, is the de facto ruler of the entire planet because America always has to be in charge) is killed along with her Joint Chiefs of Staff. The next in the chain of command is General Adams of the Air Force who is immediately appointed President.
This is how ‘IDR’ ends: with the leader of planet Earth being an unelected military General who now has full dictatorial control over the entire world and who’s first announcement is to weaponise the alien technology and use it to destroy the alien’s home world. And the movie sees this as a good thing?!
This means that ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ ends up being ‘Starship Troopers’ (1997) but with NONE of the satirical irony of its position. In fact, it actively celebrates it! It’s a deeply uncomfortable stance for a film, even (if not especially) a dumb one, to end on. In fact, the movie even suggests that the deaths of millions of people was a price worth paying if it results in the advancement of American militarism. Did Emmerich and his screenwriters mean this? Did they miss out a joke that would’ve brilliantly contextualised and satirised any of this?
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is a disgusting, boring, derivative experience enough as it is. The fact that after witnessing such appalling somersaults of attention grabbing crassness it finishes on such an offensive landing shouldn’t be the shock that it is.