Chris McKay’s The Tomorrow War delivers an interesting concept with regards to time travel movies. As the movie begins it is December 2022 and we are introduced to biology teacher and former Green Beret Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), his therapist wife Emma (played by Betty Gilpin), and their young daughter Muri (played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong). We learn that Dan is estranged from his father James (J.K. Simmons) an anti-government survivalist and Vietnam veteran.
Unfortunately for Dan, he fails to get a job at a prestigious research center but is consoled by his family as they sit together watching the football (or soccer!) World Cup. During the game soldiers from the year 2051 arrive to warn that humanity is on the brink of extinction due to alien invaders: the Whitespikes. In response, members of the world’s militaries are sent into the future, but fewer than 20% survive, prompting a worldwide draft! Soon Dan is drafted, and the repercussions of this become more important as each detail unfolds!
Now as a concept The Tomorrow War delivers an interesting take on the time travel movie, in some ways like the Terra Nova tv series only this time people are being sent to the future instead of the past. The first third of the movie helps to build this future and the perils that await those who go there. The movie then shifts to what would have happened if Disney produced Aliens, with the final third of the movie being the cliche of killing the big baddie or humanity will die.
That said, the quality of the actors in The Tomorrow War lifts it higher than expected. Whilst Pratt seemed somewhat restrained but still good, the like of Simmons, Gilpen, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, and the criminally underused Mary Lynn Rajskub make the most of every line they are given and help develop the movie beyond a one-person show. Their individual plights line up with Dan Forester’s crusade and make the viewer care about them.
Action wise there is plenty to enjoy with the enemy Whitespikes and the battles that ensue. The Whitespikes are developed well for creatures and their strengths, weaknesses, and habits are cleverly written and add to the development of the plot. Although sometimes the actions rush over plot development, and we find ridiculously undertrained soldiers being zapped to the future and coping well despite never shooting a weapon before.
What lets The Tomorrow War down is the lack of peril regarding any of the main characters. It is clear from the start who will live and who will die and whilst it is an enjoyable ride to be on, a few tragic bumps in the road along the way may have helped emphasise the seriousness of the situation they are in. Also, the Forester family relationships, whilst delivered well by all those involved, provides the underlying narrative throughout the movie, and becomes almost P.S.A. like at the end of the movie.
Verdict: 6.5 /10. Enjoyable but flawed. The Tomorrow War is a like a Michael Bay movie but with a decent script and cast.