The Tomorrow War Review: The exhilarating action in Chris Pratt's movie is shot down by an incoherent script
The Tomorrow War
The Tomorrow War Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin
The Tomorrow War Director: Chris McKay
Streaming Platform: Amazon Prime Video
The Tomorrow War Stars: 2.5/5
The Tomorrow War's introductory war-torn shot sees Chris Pratt making a 'hero' entry that would put Salman Khan and Rajinikanth to utter shame. Nevertheless, the mind-boggling entrance foreshadows the overambitious screenplay by Zach Dean that tries to factor in time travel tropes, daddy issues and climate change under 138 long minutes that feels all too much to fathom as a casual audience who just wants to witness some extravagant action.
The Chris McKay directorial first takes place in 2022 with Dan Forester (Pratt), a biology teacher and former Iraq War veteran as the main protagonist. During the ending minutes of a World Cup match, which is being watched by Dan at a family Christmas party, soldiers time travel from 2051 warning everyone of a future war breaking out and that they need to recruit people from the present time to help end it and avoid human extinction. The enemy; a ghastly looking alien species termed Whitespikes! A worldwide draft forces Dan to be recruited, obliging him to leave behind his loving wife Emmy Forester (Betty Gilpin) and their young daughter Muri Forester (Ryan Kiera Armstrong).
Given how anyone is likely to be drafted, Dan finds himself some unlikely partners, each of whom has convenient plots to fill. As expected, mayhem ensues through time jumps with some caricaturish characters left behind while Dan fights past aliens and overcomplicated time travelling jargon. Given the sci-fi, time travelling genre, you're bound to either understand how it works or just go with the flow pretending you got the subtext. During a debriefing session, several questions are asked by the draftees regarding the various loopholes in the time travel mechanics and they're just as easily shushed with more mumbo jumbo. At least the characters are just as confused as the audience.
Along the way, Dan encounters Romeo Command (Yvonne Strahovski), with a twist you'd see coming from a mile away but I won't spoil it for you. The Tomorrow War takes unabashed inspiration from past and present sci-fi classics like The Edge of Tomorrow, in particular, while offering nothing new to the table. It tries hard to be intelligent rather than just being a brainless action entertainer.
Chris takes on yet another action hero role, with characteristics very reminiscent of his Star-Lord and Owen Grady avatars. However, Pratt somehow makes it work juggling his cheesy humour with a likeable personality. Yvonne, who made quite an impact on The Handmaiden's Tale, proves she's a bankable female lead and manages to bring emotional gravitas to the film.
Equally entertaining, with too limited screentime, was J. K. Simmons as Dan's estranged father James Forester, whose grumpy cat act matches Chris' childlike wit. From the supporting cast, the only one who provides some welcome comedic relief is Sam Richardson as Charlie, a fellow draftee, who quickly bonds with Dan. In fact, the entire cast makes do with whatever much they can to salvage an 'all over the place' script.
However, in The Tomorrow War's defence, the action is exhilarating with some tightly knit gripping sequences, especially when the civilians battle the Whitespikes, who are deadly scary to watch. The unstoppable antagonists were the USP of this actioner because of how ruthless and realistic they looked rather than the recent few on-screen monsters we've seen in other films who feel like a five-year-old kid created them. The CGI is made of good use and there are some breathtaking shots that are clearly defined by the detailed production design by Peter Wenham and Larry Fong's cinematography which made certain scenes big-screen worthy.
Alas, none of these pros seems enjoyable because The Tomorrow War tries too dam hard to educate rather than plain entertain, which is what it should have aimed for in the first place.