Whatever its flaws, I can say it for sure: The Tomorrow War is an enjoyable movie. It’s not top-notch action sci-fi like Edge of Tomorrow, and Chris Pratt isn’t the most perfect leader in the world. However, it caught my attention, it made me cry and while a darker result might have made the movie stand out a bit more, I was okay with the Hollywood cliché ending.
It reminded me so much of those action blockbusters that happen during the summer movie season, the genre you pick at random because you know the actor and come out surprised at how much fun you had. Keep in mind this is a popcorn movie, Armageddon style, so don’t try to rack your brains too hard to try to figure things out.
Pratt plays Dan Forester, a science teacher in a public high school. He loves his wife Emily (Betty Gilpin) and daughter Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), but at the same time, doesn’t seem very satisfied with his life, frustrated that his ambitions remain unfulfilled. Dan also has a strained relationship with his father James (an avid JK Simmons), and despite James reaching out and trying to reconnect, Dan can’t get over his father’s abandonment of his family years ago.
Then life as they know it changes when people 30 in the future show up through a wormhole. They talk about a war that is afflicting them and the extinction of humanity which is fast approaching, so they need the people of today to help them wage the war against an alien species called the white tips. . And when the army runs out of troops to send, regular civilians are also enlisted to help with the war effort. Dan is one of them.
They make it clear that you can’t fight the draft; if you are chosen, you to have to go. Luckily Dan has some military background, but when he shows up at the training facility he meets so many recruits who can’t even handle a gun. He quickly bonds with Charlie (Sam Richardson, who does an outstanding job in a minor role), and the two are part of the R-force deployed to Miami.
Those scenes in Miami really are the highlight of the movie: all the chaos of buildings on fire and falling people, Dan and his team on a rescue mission that risks wiping out every member of his team, apprehension of what are exactly those white tips, since no one has even seen a photo of them. By retaining the images of these creatures, it creates such tension for the viewer. As Dan and his team turn around every corner, we’re on the hunt for these aliens, seeing monsters when there aren’t any.
This build-up of tension, until the actual revelation of the alien, is so well done. I could feel myself holding my breath, expecting monsters to jump anytime. The reveal of the white tip was a terrifying moment, the design of the creature so grotesque that I winced when I first saw it, which is no easy task to accomplish when you have a audience quite insensitive to the horror on the screen.
Dan meets a scientist played by Yvonne Strahovski, who is looking to create a weapon that will take out the White Spikes, and she needs his help to do so. I won’t get into Strahovski too much (since this is very spoiler-free territory), but she still does a great job, commanding the screen both in the action sequences and giving the film the emotional weight it required. Pratt is a very likeable actor, but he doesn’t bring the emotional intensity that a role like this requires, so Strahovski really helped balance things out on that front.
The film upsets our expectations, in the sense that it doesn’t end when you think about it, with a final act that goes a bit out of left field. While this act was not really consistent with the majority of the movie, I enjoyed the change of scenery, and there were some action moments that were enjoyable, if a little unrealistic.
What I love most about the film is the way it shows young people the importance of education. At first when Dan is in class, his students feel disheartened about their future, because what good is all of that studying if the world is just going to burn down in their future? Dan’s response is that a crisis is exactly why we need young people who see the value of science, who get into STEM fields to make a difference in the world.
It made me think about the current pandemic and how I was able to receive a vaccine because these groups of scientists saw the value of such education. Maybe getting older has made me sentimental, but I’m a movie fanatic that tries to convey something meaningful, even if it’s far from perfect.
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The Tomorrow War isn’t Edge of Tomorrow, and Chris Pratt isn’t Tom Cruise, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t having fun. It’s everything a good popcorn movie should be, even if it’s far from perfect.