Original science fiction is in short order these days, at least on the big screen. That makes The Tomorrow War (even if it’s hitting Prime Video as opposed to theaters) a real breath of fresh air. If the elevator pitch of Independence Day meets Terminator could have resulted in something thoroughly mediocre, instead we get something that’s a lot of fun. A mix of sci-fi action and monster movie horror, with just the right amount of humor thrown in, this film works. It’s a perfect summer movie, given what you think of when you think of that term. While you won’t be seeing it on the big screen in a multiplex (which takes away some of the spectacle), you can watch it tomorrow in the comfort of your own home. I highly recommend that you do so.
The Tomorrow War takes you on a ride, that’s for sure. Longer than it arguably needs to be, the flick at least uses that time to invest you in the central characters, as well as to let the narrative breathe a bit. The result is a sci-fi adventure where you actually feel the stakes, but don’t fall into a bit of morbid despair while doing so.
The film tells the story of humanity’s fight for survival. When time travelers from the year 2051 arrive in the modern times, they come bearing a horrible message. In 30 years, mankind is losing a war, but it’s not to any humans, but to a deadly alien species. The plan is to create a future draft, bringing people from these times to then, throwing numbers at the aliens. The draft results in 80% losses, so when family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is summoned, his wife Emily (Betty Gilpin) and young daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) assume the worst. Along with a fellow scientist in Charlie (Sam Richardson) and a veteran of the war in Dorian (Edwin Hodge), Dan prepares to fight.
Desperate to survive, Dan finds things pretty bleak in the war. However, when he meets a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) with a plan to stop things once and for all, a glimmer of hope exists. Still, the odds aren’t in their favor, and time is running out. You know the type of movie this is, but it’s to everyone’s credit that you’re never sure how it’s all going to resolve itself.
This is definitely a Chris Pratt vehicle, but he’s not the only one who shines. While Pratt is a very appealing hero, Sam Richardson and Yvonne Strahovski are just as good, playing layered characters. Edwin Hodge is a solid action player too, radiating intensity. J.K. Simmons makes the most of a small yet crucial supporting part, as does Ryan Kiera Armstrong, while comedians like Mike Mitchell and Mary Lynn Rajskub optimize what might have been throwaway roles. Betty Gilpin, however, is sadly wasted.
Director Chris McKay is having a blast with the spectacle here, and it shows. The screenplay from Zach Dean sets him up with a good premise, and McKay gives it a distinct look and personality. Casting comedians in some would-be action roles pays dividends too, as they’re able to give certain characters, whether big or small, something extra. McKay also deserves credit not just for pacing a longer movie well, but for creating some gnarly new cinematic monsters. These are nightmare fuel in The Tomorrow War, that’s for sure. You never once doubt the trouble these creatures could cause.
The Tomorrow War should entertain you, plain and simple. It’s fun and original sci-fi, done well. If that’s something you’ve been looking for on screen, you’re in luck. Amazon has a good one here, and it should play really well. Gather up the family, make some popcorn, and pretend it’s a summer night at the movies!