The Tomorrow War is what you get when you mix Starship Troopers, Children of Men, and just a tad bit of time travel!
The Tomorrow War is a refreshing big-budget sci-fi action film. It is rare to come across a film that is not simply the first chapter of some grand cinematic universe. Not that those aren’t fun, but at this point, they have been attempted by every movie studio to varying results. For one summer blockbuster to endeavor to stand on its own is admirable.
The Tomorrow War introduces the characters, builds up the premise and narrative, and when it is over, it is actually over. There are no calls for a sequel, no loose ends or groundwork laid for some grand mythology. Instead, it is a one-off that’s meant to be enjoyed and forgotten. Chris Pratt plays Dan Forester, an ex-military high school science teacher who dreams of a more prestigious career. Pratt is always fun to watch. He does a great job of walking the line between a goofy cut-up and a sensitive, relatable protagonist.
The movie’s premise is bizarre, and it takes more than a bit of expository dialogue to explain the time travel mechanics. These are the low points of the movie.
Where The Tomorrow War shines are scenes where the action pauses to reflect how the characters feel about the war. The students in present-day express grief over their losses. They fear over what being drafted would mean for them and the frustration at being unwilling participants in a war that has not even started yet. Hearing from them makes the movie’s world feel lived in. Seeing ordinary everyday people in their work clothes wearing combat gear and holding machine guns is jarring and absurd. This gives the brutal war scenes and scares more weight.
My favorite sequence in the film is the very creative final act. Dan and his other teammates, including Charlie (played by Sam Richardson) and his estranged father (JK Simmons), are put in a position to prevent the future war, and it is up to them to figure how to pull it off. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s very exciting and well-executed.
This is director Chris McKay’s first live-action feature who also directed the LEGO movie. It is an enjoyable distraction that only occasionally slides into confusing time travel cliches.
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