The Tomorrow War poster 3
The Tomorrow War – 2021

Director Chris McKay
Screenplay Zach Dean
Starring Chris Pratt, Betty Gilpin, Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers

The Tomorrow War is Amazon throwing money at the screen in order to see what sticks. It’s got many ideas that are too dumb to have been in other films, and a few that aren’t bad. The special effects are actually pretty good. Overall, if you make it through the agonizing first hour, you’ll have something on between The Thing and Starship Troopers.

Chris Pratt is Dan Forester, a former Green Beret who is trying to get a job at a prestigious research center. He doesn’t. Before we can lament, we see a military force show up in the middle of a World Cup game. The soldiers are from the future, and they need bodies from the past as fodder for their future war against a force that is overwhelming. The world gathers and decides this is a great idea. After 12 losing months of this, they start sending civilians.

Dan is drafted, but thinks, along with his wife (Gilpin) it might be a good idea to go to his “conspiracy theorist Santa” father, Simmons, to get help escaping. This does not go well, and soon Dan is thrust into the future with a bunch of people like me to battle. This does not go well either.

While there, he meets someone who holds the key to everything. Will Dan take this key and save the world? Yeah, but it won’t be pretty.

The first, biggest problem with the film is its incredibly convoluted and stupid first hour. Pratt, who is a gifted comic actor, has about as much charisma as Costner when it comes to building drama. Needless to say, he is not fun here and that takes away his biggest selling point. His strength is doing dumb stuff and still surviving, even thriving.

In the most painful segment of the story, he’s thrust in with a mix of people, some competent with a gun, some not. He does little to distinguish himself, other than be a nice guy. Something tells me a Green Beret would have more of a plan.

The rest of the cast is decent, with Richardson getting the most opportunity to show some humor. The script is so choppy, no one really gets a chance to show any sort of development, much less a continuation of a thought or two.

The story hits its stride in the last third. We get to see Simmons act, and that is always a pleasure. It doesn’t matter that it’s an abridged version of The Thing, at least its nearly over.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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