The Tomorrow War
Written by Zach Dean
Directed by Chris McKay
Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Jasmine Matthews, Edwin Hodge, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Mike Mitchell and Jared Shaw
A family man is drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his ability to confront the past.
Dan Forester (Pratt) suffers a professional setback that he thinks is the end of his world. Unfortunately, something worse is about to happen when a portal opens up in the middle of a soccer match seen all over the world and soldiers emerge telling the world that the future needs help fighting alien invaders that have decimated the planet. The first few minutes do a good job of establishing this world and the personal, political and societal toll this revelation has on it.
Things progress quickly as Forester’s work life as a teacher finds him trying to teach a disaffected class who can’t see a future at all based on the reports coming from the warzone. Things get more complicated when Dan is called in to be tested and discovers that he has been conscripted. It’s a tense scene that touches on some serious themes of government overreach and the limits of personal freedom. Those themes continue when he discovers what will happen if he doesn’t comply and we also see the effects of the war as Dan’s wife Emmy (Gilpin) councils returning soldiers.
With only 24 hours before he has to report for active duty, he goes in search of the one person who might be able to keep him from having to serve, his father James (Simmons). There is definite tension between the two of them, but the scene felt a little forced at times and its resolution was poorly handled given the stakes for the character.
Resigned to his fate, he has a final moment with his daughter before reporting for duty. When the jump is established that’s when things get more tense, more action filled and frankly, louder. The film is very intense, but the problem with its intensity is that it punctuates it with a soundtrack that completely drowns out the dialogue. I could barely understanding what characters were saying and that made it much harder to care what was happening to them.
As for the first of many big action sequences, it was ok. Nothing flashy or spectacular, just dumb action, dumb choices and not one person changing a magazine throughout. It’s nonsensical and that’s probably what the director was going for. It’s really just an excuse to see the bad guys up close and they are menacing, but ultimately forgettable visually. In the aftermath, the movie becomes family drama as a big reveal happens with Yvonne Strahovski’s character and the search for a means of eradicating the creatures.
Ultimately, The Tomorrow War is an entertaining film that tries to be too many things at once. It tries to be a sci-fi epic, time travel story, family drama, action film and monster movie all in one. It succeeds at many of these things to a point, but is a messy ride throughout. It’s not a terrible movie, but it’s nowhere as good as the sum of its parts. The performances are good, but too often drowned out by explosions and a soundtrack that get in the way.