‘The Tomorrow War’ Review

There are some great time-travel movies, some great science fiction movies, and some great alien-invasion action movies; however, there are very few that successfully blend all of the above. Director Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie, 2017) and writer Zach Dean (Deadfall, 2012) come up short in this attempt, and in fact, much of The Tomorrow War is borderline ridiculous in storyline, dialogue, and special effects. It’s extremely rare for me to go two hours (or 2:20 for this one) and never engage with a character or story.

We open on Chris Pratt (and many others) falling from the sky and landing in a horrific war zone. Immediately we flashback three decades. Pratt plays Dan Forester, a high school science teacher and former special forces soldier in Iraq. He has a supportive wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin, The Hunt, 2020), and a whip-smart young daughter Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong, “Anne with an E”). A glitch in the matrix occurs during the World Cup and a platoon of soldiers announce they are from the future and need help fighting aliens that are annihilating the human race.

Soon, a global military draft is put in place. Thanks to a “wormhole,” those drafted can serve 7 days by bouncing from 2022 to 2051 and back…well at least the 30% who survive get to come back. When Dan is drafted, he hopes to save the world for his little girl, and tells her and his students that “science is how you resolve problems.” Of course, big guns help too…but not as much as you’d hope since these aliens are fast, strong, and terribly ugly (with a bit of a throwback look to the 1970s).

In 2051, Dan reports to Romeo Command played by Yvonne Strahovski (“Dexter”), and he works closely with fellow draftees played by Sam Richardson (“Veep”), Edwin Hodge (The Purge franchise), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24 Hours”). Romeo Command also happens to be a brilliant scientist concocting a potion to destroy the aliens. The hope is to take it back 30 years and prevent the alien invasion from ever occurring. It’s a wing and a prayer plan and there’s a bit more to the story that won’t be revealed here.

Pratt is no stranger to action movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World), and he’s at his best when cracking wise with one-liners. Unfortunately, many of those fall flat when there are only 500,000 humans remaining on the planet, and the human race appears doomed. A crazy (and unconvincing) turn of events leads us to a segment that includes riding snowmobiles on a Russian glacier. The filmmakers try overly hard to work in serious topics like climate change, government incompetence, and anti-war demonstrations (why sacrifice for a war that’s not yet happening?). On top of that, daddy issues abound with multiple characters, which is where a buff JK Simmons (Oscar winner for Whiplash, 2014) comes in.

If the film had received its originally planned theatrical run, there likely would have been a few refund requests. However, streaming on Amazon is a much better fit for lower expectations.

The Tomorrow War is available on Amazon Prime.