The Tomorrow War (2021)
Directed by: Chris McKay Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 2 hrs 20 mins
Studio: Skydance, Paramount Pictures, Amazon Screenwriter: Zach Dean
Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons
The Tomorrow War is a story about humanity dealing with an extinction-level event. The best way to avert it is by the world coming together. Okay. The threat is aliens. Tired and well used, but, still, okay. Then…
Solider’s from 2051 show up via a portal of some kind in 2021. Explaining and warning that “We are you, 30 years in the future.”… “In eleven months, all human beings in the future will be wiped from the face of the Earth.” Unless, of course, the humans of 2021 help.
Director Chris McKay said in a Collider interview that he didn’t think about the time travel mechanics, as it didn’t matter to solving the issue of the story. That’s the gist of what he said anyway, and he couldn’t have been stupider for ignoring it. Just because the director doesn’t want to think about it doesn’t mean the audience won’t. Magically, all of the issues of time travel and creating paradoxes just vanish in his mind. Well, not in mine and not in others. Especially when the device which allows thousands or millions of people to travel through time and space is held together by the equivalent of tape and chicken wire. WTF? Do not beam me up, Scotty!
The main problem is that writer Zach Dean created and left the line stating “…all human beings…” all humans will be dead in eleven months. Well, if all of humanity is dead, how are there still people around 30 years later to come to 2021 and warn humanity? Words are important. A viewer shouldn’t need to pause their film (in this case) to try and figure out what they’ve seen before that can logically explain this.
What should have been said is ‘almost all of humanity will be wiped from the face of the Earth.’ Maybe even giving an estimate of who’s left in eleven months. Then the audience can follow along with ease and still grasp the dire predicament.
The entire world gets on board. Yeah! Like Independence Day.
But the lack of logic and common sense is so prevalent it’s incredible this film got made. So, first, some military personnel are sent to the future, then everyday people are conscripted. They are given no training or actual gear. You have a motor mouth that can’t load a weapon and points it at himself. Other characters take spare ammo off the dead, which is a brilliant move, while others seem to never run out of ammo. Future humanity “needs” help yet firebombs its recruits just to kill the enemy. Past humans are no more than to-go fodder. It reeks of desperation and poor storytelling.
Make no mistake, this shitty script is full of holes that leave it dull and irritatingly illogical to follow along with. Like a high school student with the answers to when, why, where, and how a plot point no one in the thirty years after him was able to figure out. Since when do we default to a teenager for “expert” information? That a plane, an American one at that, could just fly deep into Russian airspace undetected? Give me a break. That specific scientific components with alien DNA will *magically* be unlocked in less than a day? Should I continue? Sadly, I could.
Sadly, all of that isn’t a summary of the entire film. This movie clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes and feels double that. Just when you think the film is going to end, it keeps going. There were so many areas where the pace needed to pick up or be left out altogether. It’s not that The Tomorrow War doesn’t know what it wants to be or where it wants to go. It doesn’t have that problem. Its most significant issue is that it tries to be like every other sci-fi creation before it, all while being fresh. It’s not rotten, but it does stink.
Perspective is critical in this film in that everything is from Dan Forester’s (Pratt) perception. How he processes the events unfolding around him, his take on solving it, everything. The filmmaker’s choice allows Pratt’s character to have a fuller story arc, which is well developed. Pratt actually does a great job of depicting a loving father, former soldier, teacher, and unwitting participant. However, the focal point being on him is at the expense of the other characters.
There are some impressive action sequences with the fighters and aliens in various places. The CGI isn’t terrible. The aliens at least look like something I haven’t seen before. Those are the best things I can say about this movie.
The Tomorrow War was a waste of my time and brain cells. There are so many other films in the sci-fi realm worth seeing over this. Any of the movies this one rips as “inspiration,” such as Pacific Rim, Jumper, Alien, Independence Day, A Quiet Place, or War of the Worlds. The Tomorrow War is an illogical, tedious waste of effort that has no place on a watchlist.
—a pen lady