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Film Review: May “The Tomorrow War” Never Happen

Written by: Christopher Llewellyn Reed | July 1st, 2021

Film poster: “The Tomorrow War”

The Tomorrow War (Chris McKay, 2021) 1 out of 4 stars.

A film about as dumb as it can be, The Tomorrow War borrows from far better material (and some not so good) and makes a mess of it all. Imagine The Terminator meets A Quiet Place meets Independence Day meets The Thing meets Edge of Tomorrow meets Prometheus … I could go on and on. Throw a little Jurassic World in there, too, given the presence of star Chris Pratt. But don’t waste any effort deciphering the antecedents or the plot. At 140 minutes, the film may take up a lot of your time, but it’s not worth any of it.

Pratt plays Dan Forester, whom we first meet as he falls out of the sky in a rain of bad CGI. Somehow landing in the rooftop pool of a Miami high-rise, and not dying via impact on its shallow bottom, he emerges into a hellscape of a city, burning and half-destroyed. Cut to 28 years earlier, where the very same Forester, looking not a day younger, comes home after work to his wife and daughter. Sitting in the middle of a house party, he and everyone watch in horror as a soccer match broadcast on TV is interrupted by a mass of colors and clouds swirling over the field. The future has arrived.

Chris Pratt in THE TOMORROW WAR ©Amazon Studios

It seems that the human race, in 2050, is facing extinction from an alien species that is virtually indestructible, and the only solution our descendants have come up with is to travel back in time to draft today’s citizens as warrior’s in tomorrow’s losing battle. It appears to me that if one had the ability to journey through time, perhaps there might be different strategies to alter what is to happen. But no. Here, we watch as average folks, unequipped to fight, are jettisoned forward 28 years. Doesn’t their absence from what would have been their original life affect the future, too?

Making the narrative chaos worse, once Forester arrives back where we first saw him, he finds that his past has accompanied him there, too. The ensuing dialogue, filled with recriminations and expressions of regret, all of which is spouted in humanity’s final moments, numbs the mind without deadening the senses, so all we feel is pain without reason. It’s a bad way to go. Bring on the monsters so they can put us out of our misery, please.

l-r: Keith Powers and Yvonne Strahovski in THE TOMORROW WAR ©Amazon Studios

Beyond Pratt, there’s Betty Gilpin (Netflix’s GLOW series), Sam Richardson (Werewolves Within), J.K. Simmons (Palm Springs) and Yvonne Strahovski (Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale series), among others. All give it a go, and all fail to energize what cannot be charged. The same goes for director Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie), who can never quite figure out what to make of any of it, undone by the script from Zach Dean (Deadfall). May tomorrow never come.

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is Managing Editor at Film Festival Today; lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is a former cohost of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

2 thoughts on “Film Review: May “The Tomorrow War” Never Happen

  1. Nailed it. The entire premise was pretty dumb. Even if you ignore that, it’s infuriating to watch characters make the dumbest choices at every turn. The claw was the only necessary bit from the future, and they sent the geologist that could figure it out into an alien warzone as cannon fodder with a t shirt and a gun… twice.

    1. So true! And while Chris Pratt is moping over his daughter’s imminent death – a death that will not even happen if he just goes back in time with the formula he now holds in his hand – he leaps around in ways sure to damage that precious vial. So. Stupid.

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