Directed by: Chris McKay
Written by: Zach Dean
Cinematography: Larry Fong
Edited by: Roger Barton and Garret Elkins
Starring: Chris Pratt, JK Simmons, Yvonne Strahovski
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
In The Tomorrow War, headlined by A-lister Chris Pratt and now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, time-travelling soldiers from 2051 arrive in the middle of a FIFA World Cup watch party hosted by a bunch of Americans. Given that American sports culture isn’t big on soccer in reality, this is an early sign of how ridiculous this movie is going to be.
The time travelers have an urgent message for humanity: 30 years from now, a deadly alien species will devastate mankind and the only way to stop them is to send soldiers from ‘now’ into the future to fight these aliens. Humanity instantly unites against this common enemy (a bit of a stretch, given what we’ve seen of how the pandemic was handled last year).
Chris Pratt’s character, Dan Forester, is a down-on-his-luck former Iraq war veteran, who is also a brilliant scientist. Sadly, he is stuck teaching high school, and cannot get a job because he lacks private sector experience. Forester is recruited to be sent to the future, much to the despair of his wife and daughter, Muri. After half-an-hour of not unnecessary drama, the action really begins, sort of. The audience is first treated to half-an-hour of Skyline meets Starship Troopers, then to another half hour of Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.) meets World War Z, until the movie finally decides that it wants to lean towards X-Files meets the Aliens. There are basically four or five separate movies that together make up The Tomorrow War. However, those sub-movies never really come together to answer the most pressing question – why The Tomorrow War should even exist.
Just in time for July 4, the movie throws in a few grand US military action set-pieces that would make Michael Bay proud. It also spares no expense on the CGI, narrowly avoiding being mistaken for a sci-fi B Movie. However, no matter how much Chris Pratt and Yvonne Strahovski (as Romeo Command) emote and charm their way through hokey dialogue and predictable plot beats, there is no saving the movie that tries to be the ‘Every Topping’ Pizza of sci-fi in 139 minutes.
There are moments in the film that make you go, “Oh wait, that’s the movie I want to see!” I would pay to see a horror-drama about time-travelling, alien-fighting vets dealing with PTSD, or one about group of time-travelling civilians and soldiers fighting their way to safety, or even a sports sci-fi comedy about a soccer team losing a World Cup because of time travel. Just pick one!
I do suspect, however, that the movie is much more than it seems. So, here’s my theory: The Tomorrow War is secretly a DARPA Artificial Intelligence project. Why? Well, because it’s the kind of movie only a recently sentient AI would plot and create when given the input: Ultron, create the best science-fiction movie.