Friday 2 July 2021

The Tomorrow War (Movie Review)

It was around this time in 2015 that Chris Pratt became a bona fide action star, after starring in the global box office hit, Jurassic World. This was itself coming in the wake of him playing Star-Lord in the 2014 film, Guardians of the Galaxy, a role he has since reprised across multiple films in the MCU. So it shouldn't really come as a surprise to find him headlining yet another action film. Except this latest one appears to be his most ambitious one to date.

In The Tomorrow War, mankind is faced with the ultimate test when soldiers from the future travel back in time to enlist the help of present-day soldiers in their fight against a devastating alien foe. But when the first batch of soldiers is almost entirely wiped out, the governments of the world are forced to enact a global draft where everyday workers are forced to fight. This would lead to worldwide protests and general unrest as it appeared they were fighting a losing battle.

One of the men recruited to fight in that battle is James Daniel Forester (Chris Pratt), a former Iraq War veteran who has since become a high school teacher. Leaving his family behind with the hope of securing their future, James is sent forward in time 30 years, along with several other recruits. But what they find there is a lot graver than anything their drill instructors had prepared them for. Now they must fight to survive their 7-day tour, while fulfilling their duty and ensuring the survival of the human race.

Despite an overwhelming sense of been there, done that, there were still a few things I liked about The Tomorrow War. First, there is the whole concept of jumping back and forth through time in a bid to gain the upper hand in a future war. The concept itself is not particularly original, I know, but while it might seem like a rip off of older films like The Terminator, it still managed to infuse enough deviations to that formula to help set it apart. I won't give any of the twists away of course, but I was definitely surprised by the direction the film ended up taking, especially towards it latter half.

Then there is the fact that the film fully embraces the campiness of its premise. This point can't be overstated. It has oftentimes spelt the difference between why a film like Battle: Los Angeles gets poorly received for taking itself too seriously, and something like Edge of Tomorrow, which contained a nice mix of lighthearted humor and over-the-top action, doesn't. Thankfully, The Tomorrow War bears more in common with the latter than the former.

But speaking of action, this was the one area of the film where it threatened to lose me completely. Much like you'd expect from a film of this kind, it places a lot of focus on action and spectacle. A little too much for its own good in fact. Not that the effects were low-budget or unconvincing. But I would have simply preferred a more nuanced approach to some of those scenes, especially coming off the heels of the brilliant A Quiet Place Part II. But I recognize that those are two different types of films, engineered to appeal to two different types of movie fans.  

The Tomorrow War is a wholly unoriginal but still somewhat enjoyable sci-fi actioner. It delivers the kind of blockbuster spectacle you'd expect to find in a cinema around the fourth of July. The fact that it is instead debuting on Amazon Prime feels just about right though. Because despite all of its visual flourishes, this is one film that simply doesn't warrant going out to see on the biggest screen possible.