On July second, the question of whether we are alone in the universe is
finally answered. The people of SETI are the first to know, finding
listening as an alien signal is broadcast across the frequencies. Satellite
photos revile an alien vessel, a fourth the size of the moon, orbiting our
Thomas Whitmore, the president of the United States, wakes with his
daughter at his side and his wife, Marilyn, on the phone from Los Angeles.
The pentagon calls and informs him of the news.
In New York City, David Levinson, MIT Graduate, Environmentalist, cable
repairman, plays chess in the park with his father, Julius. As they play,
Julius begins to talk about David's love life, or complete lack thereof.
After 2 years as a divorcee, David still wears his wedding ring. Rather then
continue the discussion, David checkmates his old man, and rides his bicycle
At work, everything is in chaos. Satellite reception is almost nil across
the board, with some satellites completely inoperable, almost as if they've
In Washington, the president confers with Secretary of Defense and General
William Gray. They discuss the possible use of nuclear weapons against the
unknown invaders. The President shoots such suggestions down, when a colonel
arrives with satellite pictures The alien ship has begun to break up,
deploying several smaller vessels../...each more than 15 miles wide themselves.
These similar pieces have begun to enter the atmosphere. News footage from
Russia shows a wide, red-hot, saucer shaped cloud moving over Moscow.
The media jumps on the story, or what bits and pieces of it they have
In New York, David Levinson has uncovered the source of the satellite
interference. An unknown signal, hidden inside the normal satellite
programming, has awakened and is now recycling itself into extinction.
Meanwhile, in Imperial Valley California, Russell Casse is having a bad
day. Working as a crop duster to support his three children, Russell began
the day by dusting the wrong field. Infamous as a town drunk, he sits alone
in a local dinner and takes abuse from the townies. Most of the heckling
comes from Russell's claims of being an alien abductee. Naturally, no one
believes his claim.
Then the shaking starts, and a shadow falls over Imperial Valley.
In New York, people stare into the sky as something large blocks out the
sun. Over four thousand fender benders rage through New York in less then a
minute. David Levinson rushes to the roof, arriving just in time to see a
huge alien saucer park itself over the City That Never Sleeps.
Washington. President Whitmore calls a press conference, urging calm
New York is anything but calm. Near riots break out in the streets as the
citizens begin a panicked flight. David Levinson is one of them, for he
knows the alien's plan. The signal hidden in Earth's satellites is, in
fact, an alien countdown, used to coordinate the alien's attacks. Near
panic, David makes a call to Washington D.C..
In the press conference, Connie Spano, Press Secretary, answers. She is
David's ex, and brushes off his warnings of impending interstellar war.
A country away, Los Angeles wakes up slowly. Captain Steven Hiller, USAF,
wakes up in his girlfriend Jasmine's bed. Going through his morning routine,
Steve pauses to have some fun with Jasmine's son, Dylan, who claims to have
had a busy morning, "shooting the aliens."
When Steven goes outside to get the paper, he finds the aliens.
Defeated, David Levinson cycles to his father's house. Since David doesn't
own a car and never learned to drive, he takes his father on a little road
trip to the nation's capital.
In LA, Steve is called back into duty, much to Jasmine's dismay. Steve
isn't to keen on the idea himself. As he tells his squadron mate, Jimmy
Wilder, at El Toro Air Force base, he planned to ask Jasmine to marry him.
In Imperial Valley, Russell Casse packs his children inside his mobile home
and sets off east into the desert.
David and his father have gained access to the White House through Connie.
She's still reluctant to believe his theory, and goes to summon the
president. David is slightly chagrined at this, wanting to leave Washington
(with Connie) as soon as possible.
Over Washington, a military helicopter approaches the alien ship as
"operation Welcome Wagon." Connie calls the president away from this, and
David explains everything to him. The signal, the countdown, the end of everything. The
president orders a complete evacuation of every city currently underneath a
The warning comes too late for "Operation Welcome Wagon." Almost casually,
the alien ship blows the helicopter out of the sky.
Preparations are made. David, his father, President Whitmore, and his staff
are loaded onto Air Force One . As the plane begins to take off, time runs
The aliens attack with a city-destroying beam, wiping out everything in a
15-mile radius. Stuck on the Los Angeles Freeway, Jasmine and Dylan take
shelter in a side tunnel as a rolling ball of fire destroys everything in
July 3rd dawns, with three major American cities in ashes. The counter
attack is immediate. At El Toro, Steven Hiller and Jimmy Wilder, part of
Black Knights squadron, depart for the Los Angeles saucer, joining in an
attack with other squadrons in New York and Washington.
The attack is a disaster. A protective shield over the alien's hull
deflects any attack by the American planes. Hundreds of alien fighters, each
the size of the Black Knights F-18s, cuts the humans apart. Black Knights
squadron is wiped out. Only Steven Hiller survives. With an alien fighter on
his tail, he takes off into desert, eventually crashing and taking the alien
fighter down with him.
In the remains of LA, Jasmine and Dylan come across a band of survivors.
Borrowing a fire truck, they drive through the dead city, picking up
refugees. One of them is Marilyn Whitmore, the first lady.
The passengers of Air Force One receive the news of Humanity's first
defeat. Once again, the Secretary of Defense brings up the nuclear option.
An argument erupts. Julius Levinson takes all the politicians to task for
doing nothing to prevent this, despite the government's knowledge of ETs,
stored at Area 51.
Whitmore consoles Julius that there is no Area 51. The secretary of defense
tells him that this isn't "exactly true."
Steve Hiller walks through the Salt Flats of Utah, dragging his unconscious
alien captive inside his parachute. Salvation comes when a fleet of motor
homes pull up, one of which is driven by Russell Casse. Steve hops aboard
and directs them to an Air Force base that "isn't on the map."
Air Force One touches down in the same air base, and the passengers of Air
Force One enter the famous Area 51, learning that the US government not only
possesses an alien fighter, but 3 dead alien bodies.
As Senior Staff Member Dr. Okun tells them the short and ugly details of
the crash, a fleet of motor homes pulls onto Area 51's tarmac. Steven Hiller
and his alien prize are immediately taken to the examination room.
Dr. Okun begins examination, only to have his subject wake up. As President
Whitmore and his staff watch from an anteroom, the telepathic alien speaks
through Okun, telling them that there will be no peace between aliens and
humans. The alien then brushes against Whitmore's mind. The president sees
the alien's plan to exterminate the human race. The alien is shot on site.
Whitmore orders the use of the atomic bomb.
The president monitors the situation as an atomic bomb is deployed against
a saucer over Huston Texas. The attack fails. Disgusted, Whitmore orders all
the other bombers back over the suggestion of the secretary of defense.
Outside, Steve Hiller steals a helicopter and departs for El Toro. He finds
the LA refugees there and takes them back to Area 51.
Whitmore rushes to his wife's side, just in time to see her die from
internal injuries. He mourns with his daughter in his arms.
July fourth finds David Levinson on the floor of Area 51's hanger, in the
shadow of the recovered alien fighter. He's been up all night, drinking and
thinking, studying the alien technology, trying to find a weak point. His
father confronts him and tells him to get off the floor "before you catch
Julius' words trigger an idea in David's brain. He begins to work on a
computer virus to take down the alien's shields, and a plan to destroy the
alien invasion force. By piloting the captured fighter into the alien mother
ship and uploading it into the alien's central computer network, the virus
should filter down into the corresponding ships on Earth, leaving them ripe
for destruction. A nuclear bomb could then destroy the mothership itself,
inflicting further confusion on the alien forces.
Steve Hiller volunteers to pilot the alien craft with David along so he can
upload the virus himself. President Whitmore agrees to the plan, over the
objects of his secretary of defense, who he fires for being a "snively
Contacting other military pockets of humanity throughout the world with old
Morse code, Whitmore tells them of the planned counter offensive.
Back in Area 51, Steve and Jasmine are wed. David and Connie serve as
Thanks to depleted manpower, Russell Casse enlists as a pilot in the coming
offensive. He, and the rest of the American pilots gather on the tarmac as
President Whitmore makes a stirring speech. The president, a former pilot in
the Gulf War, strips of his coat and tie, and puts on a flight suit.
Meanwhile, Steve and David depart for space, eventually docking inside the
cavernous mothership. David uploads the virus successfully, but the ship
itself remains trapped inside the alien dock. Steve and David take refuge
behind their seats.
On Earth, the counter offensive goes forward. The aliens, having learned of
Area 51, direct a heavy gunship towards the Air Force base. The virus is
successful, and the alien forces begin to suffer loses of their own.
In the bowels of the mothership, David and Steve do the only thing they can
do: launch their nuclear bomb. This frees their ship from its docking clamps
and, with 30 seconds until detonation, Steve pilots the fighter out of the
The battle continues. The human forces begin to run low on missiles. Only
Russell Casse remains armed. But during firing, the missile jams. With the
alien ship preparing to fire on Area 51, Russell flies his ship, kamikaze
style, into the alien weapon. The explosion sets off a chain reaction,
completely destroying the alien vessel.
The tactic is broadcast to human forces across the globe, and across the
globe alien ships begin to fall.
David and Steve's ship falls into the desert. The two men survive unharmed.
Whitmore, Connie, Jasmine, Dylan, and Julius drive out to meet them and,
together, they watch pieces of the mothership rain down into the atmosphere,
burning like fireworks.