Heavy on influences from many science-fiction films is The Tomorrow War. Starring Chris Pratt and directed by Chris McKay, The Tomorrow War is not shy on showing us what films have influenced it, and while it can be a bit much at times – it remains a fun, if bloated film.
The film gets off to a sprightly start, dropping us, and the characters, right into a future war that we all have relatively little detail on. We quickly rewind 30 or so years to the year 2022, where we find Chris Pratt failing an interview for a prestigious new job – he has also invited his friends and family round for Christmas to watch the World Cup final. During the broadcast, the game is interrupted when soldiers from the future arrive to warn the world of an upcoming war – a war they are already fighting and losing. With the aid of a time-travel device called the “Jumplink”, civilians are soon drafted to help fight the war and stop the alien invaders known as “Whitespikes” from wiping out humanity.
The Tomorrow War barely has an original bone in its body. The list of films you will recognise here will depend on your cinematic knowledge, but we have everything from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Starship Troopers, Battle: Los Angeles, The Thing and Aliens – and that only scratches the surface. While it can sometimes be frustrating to see a film drowning in its influences, The Tomorrow War manages to take these and make them enjoyable. It refrains from feeling like a checklist of the films Chris McKay likely grew up watching, and instead manages to feel like an homage to classic 80’s and 90’s science-fiction.
While it is lots of fun, The Tomorrow War is also also bloated, makes little sense and runs a lot longer than it should. At two hours and 18 minutes, it really could have done with losing a good half hour or so. In fact, when the film reached the 90 minute mark, I thought to myself that there couldn’t be much left as the story felt almost complete – upon pausing, I then saw there was another 45 minutes to endure. In better hands, this would have wrapped up sooner. There is too much exposition, and too many unnecessary plot points explored. The familiar family drama takes up far too much time, with Pratt falling out with his father – a beefed up J.K. Simmons, and trying not to repeat those same sins with his young daughter played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong.
The acting is acceptable, but not enough is made of Chris Pratt’s talents. His quick wit and goofy charm is sullied here, as he has to accept a far straighter role than that of his Marvel character – Star Lord. The action is well paced and has a tight feel to it – a bombardment of the future military’s stronghold stands up particularly well. The Tomorrow War essentially makes for a satisfactory way to kill a few hours, even if you will forget about it as soon as the credits have rolled.
The Tomorrow War is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video.