I’m not gonna lie, I was ready to hate on this like there was no tomorrow. Chris Pratt has been “problematic” lately, so why would I waste my time watching him fight aliens for over two hours.
Dan Forester (Pratt), a happily married veteran, is ready to celebrate Christmas with the entire neighbourhood when the World Cup (which in fact will take place in 2022 during winter in the Middle-East) gets disrupted by a cosmic explosion in the middle of the stadium. A group of soldiers have come from the future to warn the entire world of an impending doom that’ll erase all of human life. We jump a year into the future and a worldwide draft has been put in place. All people over 40 will have to join the forces at some point, to time jump into the future and fight a ruthless alien race (called white spikes) for seven full days. Whoever’s clinically still alive at the end of the week, will automatically jump back to the present and deal with the unavoidable PTSD that’ll haunt them for the rest of their life, or die trying. As expected, Dan gets drafted, and with a group of ordinary people he’ll fight to save humanity.
Sounds pretty basic, right? Well, the most fascinating part of the story is that writer Zach Dean has really thought through minor details to avoid plot holes. Sure, some characters suddenly disappear to then pop up in the next act, but he’s written a thrilling and fun movie that’ll keep you entertained until the very end. Director Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) proves he can handle live action, which other animation-to-live-action directors have often failed to do. He plays with camera angles and delivers one of the most exciting blockbusters I’ve seen in a while. It really is a shame I won’t get to watch this on an IMAX-screen, because it’s clearly made for it. The movie is packed with action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat (shoutout to Lorne Balfe‘s sublime work on the film’s music), with ferocious aliens that feel inspired by those we’ve seen in Cloverfield and Edge of Tomorrow, but still feel completely fresh and make for a monstrous adversary.
As mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of Pratt, but even I have to admit this is probably his best work since the first Guardians of the Galaxy. He knows how to handle action scenes well, but shouldn’t try to phone his way through emotional scenes. That’s where Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale), who plays an army commander in the future, comes in play. She’s proven over and over again how versatile her acting skills are, and uses all of that experience to command the scenes she’s in. Whether it’s taking headbutts from a vicious alien or crying her way through a devastating monologue, she’s by far one of the most interesting actors working today and deserving of A-list status.
The supporting cast is very diverse and that’s a thing of beauty. Instead of getting throwaway Black characters, we get smart, talented, driven and ambitious Black people who have an important part to play in the main story. Sam Richardson (who can now also be seen in Werewolves Within) plays a nervously funny side kick, but both Edwin Hodge (Mayans M.C.) and Jasmine Mathews (The Rookie) kick some serious extra-terrestrial ass. Where J.K. Simmons (Palm Springs) still gets a redeeming third act to fight alongside his on screen son, Betty Gilpin (GLOW), who plays Dan’s wife is wasted on a throwaway character that could’ve been played by literally anyone.
The Tomorrow War went far beyond my expectations. It’s top shelf Hollywood entertainment that belongs on the big screen and not on a streaming service. This is the major film event Amazon Prime Video was waiting for.
Review – The Tomorrow War
Reviewed online (screener provided by Amazon Prime Video), June 29, 2021. Rating: PG-13. Running Time: 140 min.
PRODUCTION: (USA) An Amazon Prime Video release of a Skydance Media, Lit Entertainment Group, New Republic Pictures, Phantom Four Films production. Producers: Jules Daly, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, David S. Goyer, Don Granger, Adam Kolbrenner. Executive producers: Rob Cowan, Bradley J. Fischer, Brian Oliver, Chris Pratt.
CREW: Director: Chris McKay. Writer: Zach Dean. Cinematography: Larry Fong. Editing: Roger Barton, Garret Elkins. Music: Lorne Balfe.
CAST: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Betty Gilpin, Jasmine Mathews, Edwin Hodge, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Mike Mitchell.