Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie T Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobai Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
PLOT: Set 20 years after the initial attacks in the first film, the world has come together to advance our technology to be ready in case the aliens come back. Our heroes from the first film are all well-regarded, with the exception of Will Smith’s Captain Hiller, who died because Will Smith didn’t want to come back for a sequel. Instead, we have Dylan (Usher) all grown up and a pilot just like his step-dad. He’s also still BFF’s with the former President’s (Pullman) daughter (Monroe), who also is a pilot. Hemsworth plays the fiance, also a pilot. Goldblum’s David is now the director of some vague agency, and he travels the world looking for answers to this alien problem. A bunch of others left over from the first film have returned, including Robert Loggia in a very brief cameo. Of course, the aliens come back, and we have to fight them again. But there’s a twist!
WHAT WORKS: The twist makes it interesting, as it serves as some purpose as to why there is even a second Independence Day film. It opens up the possibilities, and gives more backstory to the aliens attacking us. I don’t want to give it away, since the trailers did such a good job hiding it. For those in need of a dose of nostalgia, seeing all these old faces back together is nice. Vivica A Fox’s stripper became a doctor? I remember her going to night school in the first film, but I totally thought she was just going to be a nurse. Good for her. The special effects are solid, and the innovation in technology is worth mentioning. I suppose if there had to be a sequel to Independence Day, in many ways, this is a “best case” scenario.
WHAT DOESN’T: But it’s still a sequel to a film that didn’t need a sequel, and was in no way open ended. The new cast is hit-or-miss for me. Jessie T Usher just is not a good enough actor, or charismatic enough, to work as a “Will Smith” replacement. I think they knew this, which is why Hemsworth is actually that role, because he at least tries to be semi-charismatic and somewhat entertaining. In many ways, Usher is a waste of time. I only half cared about the new cast, and basically, they all survive. Even the kid who totally seemed like he was going to die, ala Harry Connick Jr, actually makes it out alive. His character was born to die, either because he’s the best friend off the lead (and also notably a lesser talented pilot), or because he’s trying to impress a girl (and might die saving her life). Remarkably, he lives till the end. It’s one of the few times I’ll ding a movie for NOT killing a character. It’s not that he was particularly annoying, but the setup was there, and honestly… did the entire new cast need to survive? Really? And while I give you props for making Fox’s character a doctor, I take them away for killing her off so quickly, and forcing Jessie T Usher to attempt to act. That was literally the worst scene in the entire movie, and it was so entirely pointless. If I was editing that sequence, I would have immediately recommended to the director to reshoot where Fox lives, just so Usher doesn’t have to emote. And, I also deduct points for basically taking Nicolas Wright’s character from White House Down and putting him in Independence Day. I realize it’s not technically the same character, but he was an obnoxious minor character there, and now he’s an obnoxious supporting character here with way too much screentime.
FINAL WORD: Some bad acting, and some questionable plot choices mix in with some actually inventive plot twists, and strong nostalgic performances from the original cast. It’s not an instant classic, nor is it likely to ever be. It is a somewhat passable followup, that pushed for a third film that was set up really well, and might never happen. It’s possible that the fhird sequel might have been the one we all needed, but instead Resurgence is the only one we’ve got. Hopefully Hollywood will give up on Jessie T Usher, or he’ll take some acting lessons.
FINAL GRADE: C+