Chris Pratt stars alongside millions of ravenous CGI aliens in the forgettable time-travel action romp, The Tomorrow War.
Like most big blockbusters releasing this year, The Tomorrow War was initially slated for a mid-2020 opening. So, while the project was in development for nearly three years, it had been sitting on a shelf for most of that time, waiting for a proper wide release. When that didn’t happen, Amazon Studios picked it up, threw $200m at it and released it on Prime Video as an exclusive, making this another huge film not getting the theatre experience, much to its detriment.
The Tomorrow War takes place in the not-too-distant future and follows Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), a former soldier turned science teacher. He, along with the rest of society, is visited by soldiers from the future. They’ve come looking for people to join them and fight in a war against a devastating alien force that has overtaken much of the world.
The concept alone is the best thing about this movie. It is such an entertaining idea that could have been something of a classic if given to the right creative team. Unfortunately, director Chris McKay does not translate this immense premise to the screen in a satisfying way. The opening act is a near-perfect set-up as we are introduced to Pratt and his estranged father, played very well by J.K. Simmons. Their relationship would have been interesting and emotionally involving had it been carried throughout the entire story; instead, it is completely dropped in favour of having a near-hour of explosions and mindless violence.
The action scenes feel distant; we as an audience do not feel involved because the film never gives a proper sense of the scale of the impending alien force. Instead, close-ups and jarring editing is used to provide a feeling of disarray, making the film feel stale and not special, just another action movie that has no real personality or voice of its own. It doesn’t feel like a Chris McKay movie.
The performances are occasionally good, with J.K. Simmons giving the biggest and most impactful performance. The comic relief is a massive hindrance to the story; it felt like a studio note calling for the director to add more fun to this dark, violent action flick. However, not once are the jokes funny, and they detract heavily from the occasional emotional sequences peppered throughout the film. The final act feels hugely detached from the first two acts, becoming comical with the eventual resolution that leaves itself open for a sequel or entire cinematic universe. Why not?
The Tomorrow War is a pretty feeble attempt at adapting an exciting concept into a feature film. It has glimmers of potential with exciting action and decent performances. The film is fine, which is almost the worst kind; not insultingly bad, not eye-watering good, just fine. Here’s to more original ideas though, let’s just hope for better execution.
The main heroes in this movie have the last name Forester. In The War of the Worlds, another film about an alien invasion on the Earth, the main hero’s last name is Forrester.