The Tomorrow War
Directed by Chris McKay
Steaming on Amazon Prime
The Tomorrow War is like the golden retriever of movies. On the surface it seems kind of dumb, it wants to give you unconditional love, wants to have all of the fun, and asks for nothing in return except maybe a belly rub and couple of cookies. Which is kind of fitting as it stars the Golden Retriever of actors. And, like Golden Retrievers and its star, The Tomorrow War turns out to be kind of smart once you start rummaging around under the surface.
To truly beat this metaphor into submission, consider that this is a movie about an alien invasion in the future and people from the future come to the past to draft people to help fight in the future. Pretty cool elevator pitch right there, pretty original idea. But The Tomorrow War knows the questions you’re asking and answers pretty much every one of them. And not in a ham-fisted, bludgeon the audience because they’re dumb kind of way, but in an organic we think the audience might be kind of smart way. Nearly every time your nasty brain starts saying ‘hey, wait a second. Why don’t future people do this thing?’ the movie has an answer, and it usually makes some kind of sense within the movie.
So, yeah, The Tomorrow War may look like it’s kind of dumb but trust me, it really isn’t. But it’s not some piece of hard science fiction either, with techno babble and spending an eternity debating existential philosophy. I mean, this is a movie about an alien invasion in the future and people from the future come to the past to draft people to help fight in the future. And oh, my, god The Tomorrow War is so much fun. Like a Golden Retriever, but with guns and bullets and explosions and time travel and such.
Chris Pratt sells the heck out of a family man/former Green Beret/current high school teacher looking into middle age and not seeing many prospects to be much more. It’s December 2022 and soldiers from the future arrive during the World Cup to warn that humanity is being exterminated and they need our help. Stuff and things happen, and Chris Pratt is 28 years in the future fighting aliens that are like H.P. Lovecraft’s worst nightmares come to CGI life. Where did they come from? No-one knows, they were just there one day. What do they want? They’re hungry. And again, I can’t stress this enough, for such a fun time travelling, alien fighting movie some serious thought went into all of this.
Maybe not everything makes a lick of sense, but when you’re having this much fun who cares. Maybe there are some plot points that might make your brain say ‘hey, wait a minute’ and there is no answer, but you can tell your brain to shut the heck up. There are aliens trying to make Chris Pratt their dinner.
There are some things that I wish were better – the alien fighting is all kinds of awesome when it’s inside. It’s when it moves outside that the geography can become confused, when we’re not really sure of who is where. When fighting the aliens inside the limitations become a bonus, add weight to the CGI and to the proceedings. But when the action moves outside, sometimes the lack of limitations becomes a bit of a hinderance.
I could moan and whine about how The Tomorrow War isn’t some great piece of metaphysical art, but then I would be missing the point of a movie called The Tomorrow War. It’s a movie about an alien invasion in the future and people from the future come to the past to draft people to help fight in the future. It just wants your attention and maybe a belly rub.