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Critics Review
The Tomorrow War review: Chris Pratt’s time-hopping alien feature is fun but lacks finesse

Despite being riddled with formulaic twists and tropes from previous films of the genre, it’s a welcome break from the confining cinema that audiences have been increasingly treated to, of late

3.0
Sanjith Sidhardhan
Jul 02, 2021
 
cover image

A still from The Tomorrow War

Smack in the middle of The Tomorrow War, there’s a scene where Dan Forester plunges into the sea flooded by White Spikes – the invasive alien species that look like a cross breed of the monsters of some of the genre’s best (Predator and Alien) – to save a colonel who is linked to his past and future. The arresting frame seems to be straight from Dante’s Inferno. But that’s probably the only time the makers try to pull off an allegory of some sorts in this popcorn sci-fi action film, which is a direct Amazon Prime Video release.

Dan Forester, a former soldier and scientist, is drafted into military service again by a group of soldiers 30 years from the future. The latter travelled back in time to recruit people for a battle in the future against alien species called White Spikes that have wiped more than half the planet’s living beings. Straight after ‘The Jump’, Forester is literally thrown into the battleground with a motley crew of civilians that he must lead. In the course of events, he also uncovers what happens in his future and is pushed to rewrite the fate of his family and the planet.

The Tomorrow War is arguably the first big-budget action juggernaut to find its way to a direct-to-OTT release in India and in terms of entertainment – massive action set pieces, battle scenes and alien creatures – the Chris McKay directorial delivers. In fact, where it does look shaky is when the movie tries to take itself too seriously in the first half and the shoddy special effects for the time jump sequences doesn’t help either. However, the course correction comes as soon as the group pops to the future and the focus shifts to the battle scenes rather than forgettable character development.

It would remind you of Tom Cruise’s far superior Edge of Tomorrow and shades of the father-daughter sequences from Interstellar with time travel being a key element. While The Tomorrow War lacks the finesse of both these movies, it becomes fun in a Michael Bay-esque way when Dan teams up with his estranged and jacked-up dad (JK Simmons) in the movie’s latter half, delivering some logic-defying but enjoyable slobber-knockers. 

The action scenes are what works most for the film even though the makers try to infuse some soul with the relationship between Yvonne Strahovski and Pratt’s characters. Pratt’s easy-going persona lends well to Forester, a caring father who teaches science in high school but decides to serve to protect his family. Strahovski’s character is rather inconsistent, thereby taking away from the emotional core of the film. The jokes too fall flat, in fact a scene where Forester asks some dour-faced soldiers if there aren't jokes in the future almost feels self-referential.

But even without these, The Tomorrow War is an entertaining flick – thanks to the intelligent, leap-frogging aliens that shoot spikes from their tentacles. Despite being riddled with formulaic twists and tropes from previous films of the genre, it’s a welcome break from the confining cinema that audiences have been increasingly treated to, of late. So, crank up that volume, pause the logic and let the aliens run riot in this pulpy summer action-entertainer.  

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