Action movies and action-stunt sequences have gotten really sophisticated recently. The John Wick franchise has a lot to do with that — giving us less frenetic, more realistic on-screen action. The shift has been a real treat for genre movie fans.
Director Chris McKay bucks that trend with The Tomorrow War and takes audiences back to another golden age of action: the ‘90s Jerry Bruckheimer variety. Swelling scores, montages galore, end of the world countdowns — we even get a “Nooooooooo!” And for the most part, it works.
The Tomorrow War time travels between 2022 and 2051, when humanity is on the verge of extinction thanks to an alien species called the Whitespikes. A war has been waging between humans and the Whitespikes since 2048 and amid the chaos, humans have developed the technology to time travel. They use this ability to go back to 2022 and recruit people to help the war effort in the future. Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), an ex-military high school biology teacher, is one of their recruits. He will play an important role in the war, even as he confronts his own past.
Pratt is his familiar, affable self, but this role could have been played by a multitude of contemporary Hollywood actors and the movie wouldn’t change drastically. And that’s not a criticism to Pratt, more of a point about the genericism of his character. Sam Richardson though, as a fellow recruit, is very uniquely Sam Richardson. His humour is a welcome addition to the film, and will delight any Veep and Detroiters fans. And although it’s a small role, J.K. Simmons is perfectly cast as Forester’s father, living off the grid. He’s got a big, bushy beard and brings his trademark gruff yet soft character to the fore.
The Tomorrow War isn’t breaking any new ground in the genre and it actually borrows quite a bit from others. Tenet-esque time travelling (but a lot more clear in its explanation), plot ideas from Edge of Tomorrow, and the shoot ‘em up video game style of Resident Evil. In a way, this is why The Tomorrow War works — it combines elements of modern-day action with ‘90s action attitude.
The Tomorrow War is a fun, mindless, alien invasion popcorn flick that would’ve benefited from a theatrical release in more normal times. It’s truly the epitome of what a summer blockbuster is and should be. The ideas are fun, the performances are spot-on, and the design of the Whitespikes is great. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you. It’s meant to be 2 hours of escapism and it succeeds very well.
The Tomorrow War is available on Amazon Prime now.