Director: Chris McKay
Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Sam Richardson
Review Author: Tony
Synopsis: The world is left in shock by the sudden arrival of time travellers from the year 2051 who warn that the future is bleak as humanity is losing a war against a hostile alien race. Their only hope is to send humans from the past to fight this war and bolster their numbers. Shortly the worlds military conscripts are wiped out forcing more drastic measures as they draft civilians to fight this future menace.
Despite such an aggressive marketing campaign by Amazon Prime, the trailers and posters for their sci-fi action romp, The Tomorrow War, couldn’t have presented a more generic looking film. Perhaps it’s the stale formula most trailers now follow of extreme closeups of cast members spouting lines such as “This is our only chance” or “The world is depending on us” to the backdrop of BWAAAAMMM music, capped off with the leading character jumping away from an explosion, The Tomorrow War’s trailer ticked all these boxes. Even the posters are completely lacking in any enthusiasm with just cast members mean mugging off into the distance with their trusty guns; the kind of posters you would expect to see Bruce Willis or John Travolta slapped on the front of to market whatever their latest money-up-front bargain bin movie is. Thankfully, The Tomorrow War is a far more exciting and competent film than advertised that rises head and shoulders above the poor output of other streaming services.
Any concerns about the complexity and damaging nature of time travel is quickly paved over with an all too comfortable explanation early on that suited me just fine; can’t be having pesky paradoxes slowing down all the gunfights and explosions. In fairness, this simplistic approach to time travel allows the film to keep up an impressive pacing that keeps you engaged early and never lets up. The action sequences are impressive in scope and highlight the quality visuals and creature design. Whereas the budget clearly went into the visual effects, you can see corners were cut especially in terms of set design with office spaces and city streets providing a dull backdrop to the high octane action on display.
The bulk of the films’ success is borrowed from several well known/loved science fiction properties such as Starship Troopers, Aliens, Edge of Tomorrow, Independence Day, The Thing and even the largely forgotten Kris Kristofferson flick, Millennium. The aliens themselves bear a similarity to the mimics from Edge of Tomorrow and the creatures from A Quiet Place. Despite copying the homework of so many better films, The Tomorrow War still mashes these elements together competently for an exciting invasion film. Think of it as a greatest hits album of action sci-fi films just without the depth or context that made these films classics in the first place.
The cast is pretty formulaic even by action film standards. Pratt plays a former Navy Seal turned science teacher with a loving family, an easy set up to explain he’s intelligent, trained for combat, and has an emotional investment in the story; a safe but easy character to root for. It’s great to see actors like J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin and Edwin Hodge as top billed cast, but their screen time is all too brief and backstories pretty paper thin. Sam Richardson is by far my favourite part of this film taking a generic role such as the comedic side character and just running with it blending his own comedic intuition and energy. I can’t wait to see him get bigger roles.
Considering just how dull and lifeless the majority of genre films have been on streaming services since the pandemic exploded back in March 2020, The Tomorrow War is an exciting albeit unoriginal 2 hour excursion into blockbuster film on a smaller screen.
Pints of Guinness