The Tomorrow War (2021) – Film Review
Director: Chris McKay
Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, JK Simmons
By @Roger Crow
I’ve lost count of the amount of big movies that arrive on Amazon Prime Video, all guns blazing, but then turn out to be damp squibs. Yet recently a couple of crackers have arrived, and I’ve been hooked on every minute.
The Ice Road is the long overdue Ice Road Truckers movie, in which down-on-his-luck trucker Liam Neeson and his mechanic brother try to deliver a well-head to a bunch of trapped miners in danger of suffocation. Heaving with great action scenes and a hissable villain who keeps popping up like Wile E Coyote, it’s so enjoyable I even watched half of it with just subtitles and no sound, and still enjoyed the hell out of it.
However, when it comes to one of the best blockbusters of the year where you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home, take a bow Chris Pratt, director Chris McKay and the army of effects experts, stunt guys and others who helped craft The Tomorrow War.
A heady mix of Starship Troopers, Edge of Tomorrow, The Thing movies, Alien, Aliens, The Terminator, and other sci-fi classics, it also boasts a terrific cast, an often hilarious script and stunning visual effects.
The first act, like many a time travel movie, is made up of random scenes which don’t make a lot of sense. Why is that pupil so obsessed with volcanoes? Why does the wondrous JK Simmons have such a major scene with his estranged screen son? And why is our hero’s daughter so fascinated with science? Not that it’s a bad thing obviously.
I do know that being ‘married’ to Betty Gilpin is no bad thing either for Pratt, who is at the top of his game here. The occasional goofiness of Guardians of the Galaxy is gone, and the humdrum generic hero of Jurassic World is also absent. Here he looks perfect, whether in scenes of nail-biting tension or selling the third act, which seems to have arrived from out of space, or at least from a classic 1950s movie and its 1982 remake.
*It’s a shame Betty is so wasted here. I’d love to have seen her display some of the jaw-dropping moves from The Hunt.
The premise is simple. Well, sort of. During a major footy match, an electrical storm heralds the arrival for future soldiers who explain that the human race is in danger of extinction from lethal predators. To combat the killer White Spikes every available adult from the present will be conscripted to fight in the eponymous conflict. But the mortality rate is high, and chances of soldiers returning either alive or with all the limbs intact is low.
We have a hint of what future soldier Dan Forester (Pratt) is involved with during a great opening scene utilising a swimming pool. And it’s no less thrilling when that full scene plays out later.
Yvonne Strahovski is superb as ‘Romeo Command’. Essentially the Emily Blunt character from Edge of Tomorrow, providing valuable exposition while kicking alien derrière. Though revelations can be spotted minutes in advance, it matters little. The apocalyptic scenes are brilliantly handled, as are the street battles. And like The Ice Road, it wouldn’t matter if you did turn the sound off for half the movie. Repetitive gunfire does get on the nerves fast.
There is one money shot when the film feels like it’s nearing its end that is one of the most beautiful of any movie this year. But just when you think things will be wrapped up, a twist develops that takes things off in another direction.
And though that last 20 minutes feels a bit tagged on, talk about value for money. The Tomorrow War is such great popcorn entertainment, you may get the urge to watch the whole thing again a day later, when of course it will make more sense. A sequel would not be the worst prospect in the world, hopefully with more Gilpin and less gunfire.