You almost have to marvel at the level of obliviousness that 'The Tomorrow War'
brings to the table. For a start, it's an action movie set in a future war where
humanity must band together to stop an alien invasion, and time-manipulation
plays a big role in it. Right there, you're inviting comparisons with 'Edge
of Tomorrow' and the 'Terminator' franchise and yet 'The Tomorrow War' offers
nothing remotely inventive compared to either of them. Next, it's a movie with a
subtext about global warming destroying our future, yet it's being released on a
streaming service owned by a company that regularly destroys millions of unsold
stock in waste and increased its carbon footprint by 19% during the pandemic.
'The Tomorrow War' is another CGI action gloop-fest that's slugged its way onto
Amazon Prime and has nothing to say for itself. Sure, it's going for big thrills
and it's got Chris Pratt, but there's something so bland and annoyingly trite
about it all. Pratt veers from smell-the-fart acting to yucking it up with
one-liners. JK Simmons tries to elevate things in his sole scene, but you can't
help but be fixated by his giant arm guns instead of the clunky dialogue he's
rattling off. Betty Gilpin, a fantastic actor with range, presence and humor,
is reduced to being "Wife Exposition Character". Yvonne Strahovski is "Military
Exposition Character", meaning you can't blame her for the dull performance on
her part. Even Sam Richardson, always a delight in any role he takes up, is
reduced to "Comic Foil Character" to Pratt's "Military Teacher Dad Character" with
Respectfully, Pratt still lacks the palpable onscreen intelligence that a
Harrison Ford could give a character like this real depth (and feels tailor made
for a more Ford-like actor), but he nevertheless juggles the script’s
implausibility's with the exact kind of studied obliviousness that they require.
Except for Strahovski, who laces their reunion with desperation and reluctant
joy, everyone else feels largely on autopilot, though some spectacular
production design in the film’s final scenes elevates interest long after the
plot as run out of gas. But ultimately, this is a film that feels emblematic of
the streaming era — not a real movie but one that’s too big just to premiere
online, all loud noises and anemic star wattage and no real ideas except for the
one somebody probably literally green lit while riding up in an elevator to an
executive’s second-floor office.
Throughout 'The Tomorrow War', it all feels so aggressively like a mass-market
advertisement for the US military that it feels like the CGI aliens are just
getting in the way of it. Although Chris McKay has a background in animated
movies like 'The LEGO Batman Movie'
and 'The LEGO Movie 2', live-action movies
clearly aren't his forte. Indeed, the movie feels like it's been edited with a
chainsaw and the overbearing score by Lorne Balfe just zaps any kind of natural
tension and atmosphere out of each and every scene.
The script by newcomer Zach Dean is leaden with trailer-speak, not to mention a
concept that has been done before and done better. Time-travel movies don't
necessarily have to be complex to be enjoyable and entertaining, but they do
have to try something new or at least exploit audience expectation in a way that
gives them something they haven't seen before. 'The Tomorrow War' doesn't do any
of this. You've seen this movie before, and you've seen it done better. It's a
knock-off, Wish.com version of something more inventive and exciting.
Nothing, but nothing about 'The Tomorrow War' is redeemable. There are so many
better movies out there, even on Amazon Prime, that are worth watching instead
of this. That Amazon paid Paramount close to $200 million for the distribution
rights to this is mind-boggling. They could have easily given that money to Doug
Liman to make a sequel to
of Tomorrow' and it would have been a far better
use of that money. Better yet, they could have given that $200 million to
literally any environmental group and it would have made a better impact than a
crappy action movie about saving the planet.
With echoes of Starship Troopers (minus the pointed satire), The Tomorrow War,
starring Chris Pratt, is the second noisy “temporal war” movie of the pandemic
era, after Christopher Nolan’s 'Tenet'.
To differentiate between the two, this is the one Nolan would have written if
he’d suffered a head injury.