The Tomorrow War: Fails at nearly every level

The Tomorrow War The Tomorrow War reviewThe Tomorrow War directed by Chris McKay

There’s really no way to sugarcoat this. The Tomorrow War is one of the worst movies I have seen in years, in or out of genre. Outside of some likable performances, the film fails at nearly every level: premise, look, pace, plot, and dialogue (so of course, a sequel is already on tap). I’d say it was a waste of two-plus hours, save that it was so bad that we ended up fast-forwarding through whole chunks once we realized we somehow had over an hour left, so we only wasted about 90 minutes of our lives. So no, I don’t recommend it. One or two spoilers (though as I’ll explain that word is a misnomer in this case) to follow

The film opens with Chris Pratt’s character Dan finding out during a gathering at his house to watch a big soccer game that he’s lost out on a big job he’d been going for. After kicking over a garbage can and getting comforted by his adorable daughter Muri, his bad day gets worse when the big game is interrupted by a portal ripping open midfield and spilling out a squad of soldiers who announce they’re from the future, they’re fighting a war against aliens, and they’re losing. So they’re here to conscript more people in a last-ditch effort to save what’s left of humanity (roughly half a million, though it’s unclear how they know that). In short order Dan (who luckily is a special forces vet) and a squad of mostly untrained regular folks are “jumped” into a post-apocalyptic future to help a scientist create an anti-alien toxin, humanity’s last chance.

To begin with the positive, Pratt is his usual engaging Everyman self, and the acting throughout is fine, whether in more serious roles or in the comic relief characters. And there’s also, um, well, there’s the, hold on. OK. Nope. I’ve now exhausted the positives. As for the negatives, so so many.

The story is filled with plot holes that gape even bigger than the massive portal that opens up on that soccer field. And not just one or two, or ones that only have to do with the set-up. They come fast and furious throughout the film, so many so often that my wife finally put a kibosh on my picking up the remote to pause while saying, “But why . . . But how . . . Why wouldn’t they . . . “I’ll save you the long list. The premise itself is an Idiot Plot premise, with only one throwaway line to try and make some limited sense of it, and even that line didn’t make any sense.

Even at the basic logistics level it makes little sense. We see individual creatures knocking over large armored vehicles but when an axe gets stuck in one Chris Pratt is only swung around a little bit as the creature violently moves side to side. The creatures are taller than the armored vehicles and nearly as big, but they walk through human doorways and down human stairwells. They’re super-fast, except when they’re chasing important people, then time dilation seemingly takes effect.

Here is a perfectly illustrative scene. When they try to capture one in an underground cave, we enter mid-scene where we can see 7-8 soldiers with ropes around it trying to pull it into a cage, but they can’t control it all as it kills most of them. Pratt’s daughter drops down from a helicopter, followed by Pratt when she (of course) gets into trouble. The issues:

  1. How the hell did the cage get in there? The entrance Pratt and his daughter enter through barely fits a vertical human (when they pull the cage out it breaks through earth). Did the creature just ignore them while they assembled it a la an Ikea bookshelf?
  2. How did they get ropes on the creature?
  3. The nest is a large area (where the cage and soldiers are) connected to a smaller one by a narrow entrance. The creature is flushed out of the small area via a flamethrower from up top. Why didn’t they just put the open cage in front of the narrow entrance and force her into with the flamethrower? (and why don’t soldiers all have flamethrowers since the things are basically immune to bullets?)
  4. We originally see 7-8 soldiers trying (and failing) to hold the creature, but then watch it deliver 16 incapacitating or killing (really, they all should have been killing) blows, each to a different soldier. And two soldiers remain at the end.
  5. 7- 20 soldiers couldn’t hold it at all, but Pratt plus two others are able to pull it off his daughter and get it into the cage
  6. Pratt follows into the cave because from the helicopter he sees a gazillion creatures running toward the nest (we’re told they’ll protect the matron-y kind of creature). He kills one up top, then helps wrestle the other one into the cage. What happened to the gazillions racing (and I mean racing) to protect the nest? Who knows?

And this scene is far from an outlier. Even as the plot makes next to no sense, it’s also, somehow, utterly predictable, both within individual scenes and from scene to scene. Everything plays out pretty much as one assumes it will after about the first 20 minutes, leading to me annoying my family by going “that’s his daughter . . . His dad is going to . . . etc.)

I won’t belabor the point. Suffice to say again this was the worst movie I’ve seen in some years, in nearly every aspect of moviemaking (even the CGI was bad CGI). The only time travel I was interested in by the end was going back two hours and stopping myself from turning it on.

Released in 2021. Time travelers arrive from 2051 to deliver an urgent message: 30 years in the future mankind is losing a war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians to be transported to the future and join the fight. Determined to save the world for his daughter, Dan Forester teams up with a brilliant scientist and his estranged father to rewrite the planet’s fate.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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2 comments

  1. Admit it, Bill, at some point you were hoping a portal would open while you watched this and sweep you and everyone into a better future, weren’t you?

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