0.5/4, 2020s, Action, Chris McKay, Review, Science Fiction

The Tomorrow War

Watch The Tomorrow War | Prime Video

This was excessively stupid. It honestly feels like it was written by AI, not a human. It has all the pieces you expect from a large-budgeted scifi action vehicle starring an established action star, but nothing makes any sense, the emotional catharsis is completely manufactured and feels incredibly fake while being entirely unearned, and it veers wildly from intentionally silly to unintentionally hilarious without a single sense that anyone involved in the movie has any sense of tone in the least. But hey, stuff blew up good and the music swelled at the end, so it felt like a good time, I guess.

The future has come back to the past to recruit soldiers to fight a war in the future. Already, this movie is excessively stupid based on just the concept, but other movies have survived dumber concepts without descending into constant stupidity. However, The Tomorrow War rises to the challenge and actually goes out of its way to prove that it’s really dumb.

Chris Pratt plays James Forester, a retired sergeant in the Green Berets who teaches high school biology. During his World Cup viewing party he proves that he loves his wife and daughter very much (this is important to the movie’s stupidity, by the way) while struggling to make a difference in the world (I mean, just…ugh). Then the people from the future show up, and we skip ahead a year. In that year, thousands of people have been sent forward every week to fight with return numbers settling around 20%. The worldwide draft is killing off most of the people drafted, and tensions are rising. Of course, James gets drafted, and then the movie goes out of its way to prove to the audience that the movie is really, really stupid.

Time mechanics are hard to figure out in fiction. They require a good deal of thought to consider how to make the whole moving backwards and forwards in time actually make sense. The Tomorrow War takes its time to explain how its mechanics work, but then spends the rest of the movie ignoring all of it. I don’t think I’d be nearly as irritated with this film if they had simply cut out the scene explaining the time travel. Keep it as a handwave without actually explaining, and we can go along. But, since the movie explained it, I’ll recap. The time portal that opens and closes between the two times means that the two times are linked together, moving along forward at the same rate. So, when someone goes into the future and then sent back seven days in the future later, seven days have also passed in the past, like two boats moving at the same rate in a river, one ahead of the other.

Where this becomes a huge problem is the entire emotional narrative of the film hinges on those mechanics not being right.

So, for reasons, instead of given a week of training, James’ troop must go the first night they’re there, and something happens with the coordinates so the entire platoon appears hundreds of feet in the air above Miami, still standing above water after the melting of the icecaps. James happens to fall into a pool on top of a high rise, miraculously surviving along with a handful of others. They had to jump early because the alien forces in the future were attacking Miami and the human research facility there that had some really important research. So, what are the humans doing in the future? Planning on bombing Miami to the stone ages. So,…they have to save the research that the humans are going to destroy themselves? I mean…this honestly feels like it was written by an AI.

People die in slow motion with music of import playing, so we think emotionally affecting things are happening (they’re not), and James survives a massive explosion really close to him to wake up and find that his daughter is now a colonel in the military and has rescued him, bringing him to the Dominican Republic. Here’s where it gets super stupid. You see, Yvonne Strahovski’s Muri is really mad at James because, several years after James left for the future, he abandoned the family, leaving Muri alone. Now, this is wrong on two levels. The first is the time travel level. This makes no damn sense. If the two times are moving along at the same rate, then James is gone from the past completely and he could never have abandoned his family because he got sent to the future. If this is because James eventually went back and survived his trip, then there’s no dramatic tension because we know he goes back. Time travel is hard to figure out, and the AI that wrote this movie (the credits say its name is Zach Dean) spent no time trying to figure it out because either way, it either makes no sense or robs the film of all tension. The other way this is wrong is character based.

You see, James hasn’t done what Muri is accusing him of doing. This is akin to her waking up from a dream where he had done something wrong and James needing to make up for it. He hasn’t left her and her mother. The only time we saw him and Muri together in the past was where they were a loving father and daughter pair, happily watching the World Cup together. When the movie comes to an end and James promises his daughter that he’ll never leave her, it means nothing because he never did leave her. He started as a loving dad and ends as a loving dad. It’s not a journey. It’s him staying in place with music swelling like he has taken an emotional journey. I mean, this movie is really stupid.

And that doesn’t even get to the stupidity at the heart of the human plans for the aliens, the White Spikes. You see, in the future they’ve developed a toxin for the males, but they can’t get it to work on the females. So, daddy and daughter use science to figure it out, developing just that toxin from a captured female. Having the female at their remote ocean base attracts a huge mass of males that attack, ultimately leading Muri to dying and James going back in time just in time to save him because of course. The attack, though, knocks out the link between past and present, and James, along with a couple of his buddies, are stuck in the past with this female toxin.

Well, what to do? Well, they do what the scientists of the world had, apparently, collectively decided to not do: figure out where the White Spikes originated from, quickly (I mean, really quickly) discovering that they were buried under the ice in Russia for thousands of years instead of falling to the earth some decades hence. Seriously, this movie is really stupid. So, without permission, James enlists his father (J.K. Simmons) to fly them to Russia where they ultimately beat the female by hitting her in the face with an icepick. Where did that toxin go? Was it necessary? I guess not. Well, that just invalidates the middle section of the film, I suppose.

This movie has the veneer of an entertaining blockbuster like Independence Day, but it definitely is not that. Independence Day was able to rise about its questions about how a Mac could interface with an alien ship through solid character work and a plot that made sense. The Tomorrow War is a complete hodgepodge of bad ideas flying at each other without any sense of what could or could not work. It doesn’t know because it was written by an AI.

This was one of the worst big budget action movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Rating: 0.5/4


14 thoughts on “The Tomorrow War”

  1. Wow, thank you so much for watching and reviewing this so I don’t have to.
    And I was tempted, because it has Chris Pratt and I like him. (not enough to watch Passengers, though. Or Jurassic World 2)

    It sounds like the “””writer””” also doesn’t know shit about the military. Or aliens. Or logic. I mean, if they have time travel, they why aren’t they just giving people in the past 30 years worth of war prep? They know when and where the aliens attack, so why not lay traps? Why not use LOTs of high explosivies, if guns work on them, high explosives will REALLY work on them.

    Gah. Sounds like crap.

    Speaking of…going to review Black Widow so I can decide if I should watch it or let the MCU die with Infinity War? (I’m pretending I didn’t see Endgame)


    1. I have no plans on it now. The fam and I are going down to Florida for the next week, and I haven’t been to a theater in about 2 years. I’m not paying that premium Disney price for access.

      I just don’t really care enough. I still haven’t watched Loki. I just…you know…don’t care. Dreyer’s film interest me more.


      1. I just got back from Black Widow this evening. It’s… all right. Marvel’s worst is still entertaining. Apparently someone in Hollywood things that a family dynamic is adults bickering at each other and lying that they’re in a family. Even the action scenes were ho-hum. The humor was there, but the tension and violence were not.

        It doesn’t help that a good 85% of the movie has the villain off screen. Hard to establish an evil mastermind when he doesn’t do much. Save it for Netflix.


  2. *Gestures hypnotically*
    “This is not the time travel theory you were looking for . . .”

    Oh! And it was supposed to be the band . . . The White Stripes! They played and that killed the Queen and saves the world!

    And . . . and . . . and Yvonne Strahovski!

    Anywho, don’t blame the AI. The script was GREAT but the clowns in re-write butchered it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The movie has many other very serious flaws that just irked the hell out of me.

    So they send their conscripts into the future armed with what seem to be, at base, AR pattern rifles, which are quickly shown to be completely useless against the aliens. The future military apparently thinks nothing of this. Pratt even had a damn speech about humanity needing to innovate against these aliens, but they fail to do the single most obvious bit of innovation, which is to use ammo that can penetrate the aliens’ biological armor! I felt so damn insulted the first time we saw one of the aliens in the stairwell do that closing-up-the-shoulder-blades-ha-I’m-invincible-now-puny-human thing while Pratt’s character was doing a mag dump on it. Really?

    Additionally, the tactics and actions of the future military in the future time make absolutely no sense. That three hummvee convoy to rescue Pratt and his group in Miami, that got blasted by a handful of aliens? Just *one* of those aliens can overturn a hummvee and Col. Forester knows this, her entire damn military know this, and yet, they did it anyway. And not only that, but the evac was ordered as if it had a prayer in hell of succeeding.

    Then there was the female alien capture operation. Here they were going after the single most valuable asset of the enemy, an enemy that has them outclassed in almost every way, and the task force consisted of a few hummvees, plus the helicopters that ferried Forester’s group in. It’s just mindboggling how that plan ever got approved.

    Also, did you guys catch Col. Forester down in the hole saying “Now!” after losing a couple of guys and Pratt had come in to try and save her ass, and she yells that out as if this was the plan all along?

    So. Stupid.


  4. Not that this movie really deserves the correction, but Pratt’s character is named Dan Forester, not James Forester.

    Another stupid thing is the vulnerability of these monsters, which seemed pretty variable. Dan and his daughter do a pretty decent job of annihilating quite a few of these creatures with a .50 cal after capturing the female. So, how were humans losing to these things? Wait, I know the answer to this one. Because this is a world where no one bothers to tell you when going to the future that the monsters you’re fighting are only vulnerable when shot in the neck or belly.


    1. The character is credited as James “Dan” Forester. So, it seems like he goes by his middle name, or something.

      But yeah, it kind of reminded me of Cowboys and Aliens. There’s a moment late in that movie where Harrison Ford goes through an emotional catharsis in the middle of the final action scene, and once that’s done his bullets do more damage to the aliens. I did read that the original script had further explanation for the use of untrained conscripts in the future where the people were infected with a disease that would attack the bodily systems of the aliens when they ate the people. I would have been okay with that idea.


    2. Screen Junkies Pitch Meeting said it best: “So they’re going to get all sorts of intelligence on the aliens before the go? Weak spots and all that?” “No, if they see the aliens ahead of time then they might say no.” “But you said it was a draft. They don’t have a choice.”


  5. the problem is blackwidow subverts much of the story as we know it since avengers, dreykov’s daughter turns out to be a futile gesture, for both barton and romanova, but ray winstone has the worst russian accent since branagh is first recruit, I think it comes off worse then the adaptation of red sparrow, which is the real version of the red room


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s