From: Silver Screen

Review: The greatest casualties in ‘The Tomorrow War’ are our attention spans

Review: The greatest casualties in ‘The Tomorrow War’ are our attention spans
Chris Pratt stars in The Tomorrow War.

Chris McKay’s first live-action film “The Tomorrow War” uses the sci-fi genre to tackle themes of sacrifice and family.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is a family man with an avid interest in science, but his suburban life is upended when a wormhole to the future opens in the middle of the soccer game he’s watching. Soldiers emerge from the portal carrying a grave message: an alien race known as the White Spikes has taken over the world and the future military has been depleted of soldiers. The only way to stop the invaders is to recruit people from the present.

Forester is soon drafted into the Tomorrow War and, upon deployment, he learns that his daughter (Yvonne Strahovski) has become the top researcher in the fight against the White Spikes in the future. She’s created a toxin that he must take back to the present so he can kill all of the aliens before they take over, but doing so would erase the future as Dan’s come to know it and his daughter along with it.

Ultimately, “The Tomorrow War” comes off as yet another summer blockbuster with little substance under its shiny surface. The fact that it lacks a proper theatrical release only serves to dampen all of the film’s potential “oohs” and “ahs.”

Everything about this film is developed unnaturally. Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the premise itself. No attempt is ever made to explain why the White Spikes are attacking. They’re just a vicious species killing for killing’s sake and we, as the audience, are expected to care about the rest of the movie from the beginning.

The subplots are uninteresting as well. One of the major conflicts throughout the film is between Forester and his father (J.K. Simmons), who walked out on his life when he was very young. Forester spends 40 years hating his estranged father — but after shooting some aliens together like two friends playing a cheap game in the lobby of a movie theater, everything is copacetic between them. Even for a film that’s not meant to make its audience think too hard, the way that abandonment is treated like a papercut is borderline irresponsible.

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The most enjoyable performance comes from Sam Richardson as Charlie, a soldier who Forester befriends during the war. Charlie brings much-needed comic relief to a movie that takes itself way too seriously. Sadly, he’s relegated to the role of Forester’s sidekick for the majority of the film, and thus receives far too little screen time.

On the bright side, the film does deliver on its promise of explosion and guts. Action is crammed into every conceivable inch of the movie’s many fight scenes. White Spikes are shot, slashed and stabbed all over the place. However, there are only so many aliens that can be killed before we grow weary and beg for the credits.

If McKay is to direct any more alien invasion movies in the future, he should take a page out of Paul Verhoeven’s book and embrace the campy qualities that make films like “Total Recall” and ”Starship Troopers” enjoyable. When directors treat their films with more seriousness than their subjects deserve — unless done ironically like “This Is Spinal Tap” — their audiences are likely to see right through it.

“The Tomorrow War” fails to bring enough flavor to a genre that’s consistently oversaturated with films that are just like it. Perhaps watching this film in a theater would earn it back some lost points, but it’s ultimately forgettable either way. While watching, we envy the White Spikes: at least they don’t have to make it through the entire two-hour and 20-minute runtime.

“The Tomorrow War” is available to view on Amazon Prime Video starting July 2, 2021. 

shoover@theeagleonline.com 


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