On Friday 24th I saw the City of London suffer untold destruction, a total bloodbath. I also saw Independence Day: Resurgence.
My Friday started with a grinning Nigel Farage declaring a new Independence Day. Before work I had already spoken on local radio and dissected the result with a bleary-eyed local councillor on the train. While we were figuring out what the future would bring the Prime Minister resigned and the pound hit a new low. I’d been up since 4am.
After living through the most tumultuous day of our country’s history in decades, I sought escapism. I wanted 90s nostalgia, I wanted goofiness, I wanted the world coming together in the face of an extraordinary threat. Roland Emmerich was the answer, or so I thought.
As the film starts, the new President rehearses her Independence Day speech. She commemorates that momentous day in the 90s when the world came together to fight for freedom. The nations of the world are all joined together in the ESD – an international organisation that proves we are #BetterTogether. After Britain’s decision to leave this felt like a bittersweet echo from another world.
The film does get some things right though: when an interstellar ship carrying refugees shows up our first reaction is to assume they’re with the enemy and shoot it down. We ignore the warnings of a former politician, dismissing it as scaremongering. Later a world leader makes a heroic sacrifice, leaving the next person to clean up the mess.
Emmerich also gives us another sign of things to come. Despite Independence Day‘s “America, Fuck Yeah” pedigree, the new entry includes a lot of pandering to China. We’ll have to do this too if we want to secure those all-important new trade deals with President Xi.
There’s also a sequence where London gets destroyed by gravity while Jeff Goldblum flies away in an alien ship, mirroring the exodus of stocks and shares from the FTSE 100. The aliens are defeated by destroying their leader; once gone, the forces become paralysed – much like our current government.
Independence Day: Resurgence was not the tonic I was looking for. When I saw the world uniting together, I was reminded of the racism spreading through our own streets. When I saw humanity exploring the Solar System, I was reminded how much our own country’s space ambitions could be set back. When I saw strong people leading by example, I was reminded just how few President Whitmores there are in the world.
My escape into 90s nostalgia reminded me just how far our generation is from those carefree days. The giant alien looked cool though. 6/10.