- Release Date: 02/07/2021
- Platform: Amazon Prime Videos
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Betty Gilpin, Yvonne Strahovski, Sam Richardson, J.K Simmons
- Director: Chris McKay
Rating: 2/5 (2 out of 5 Stars)
I thoroughly enjoyed The Tomorrow War for the first hour or so. The film begins with an exceptionally sweet and warm exchange between Chris Pratt and Ryan Kiera Armstrong playing his daughter. Pratt has just lost an opportunity to join a professional lab and put his biological knowledge and skills to full use. He believes that he is wasting his knowledge and life as a high school biology teacher. When he loses the opportunity and walks back home dejected, his daughter, Muri is able to sense a feeling of morose in her father and she says some of the sweetest things to him. Pratt responds to her words in an equally disarming manner and this heartfelt exchange between a father and his daughter turns this scene into an absolute pleasure.
The warmth of this scene is then violently broken by what we see unfold on Pratt’s TV set. The World Cup Soccer final is brutally marred by the arrival of a tactical force from the future using a rudimentary wormhole. The leader of the team announces that 30 years from the day, the world will be overrun by an alien species that knows nothing but feeding on humans. The only hope for mankind is to send people from the present time to the future to fight the war against the alien hordes as the number of humans in the future is fast dwindling. And so begins a global initiative in which people from different countries are conscripted and sent to fight in the war. Soon the time comes when Criss Pratt is forcefully conscripted and sent to fight. Little does he know that the mission he is about to embark on will not only change his life but will also influence the future of mankind.
The Tomorrow War will be an extremely polarizing film for a plethora of reasons. While the film does some things well, it fails terribly on some other counts, and hence at times, it feels almost like two different films. The biggest question for me was whether it was more of the former or the latter.
The film has a racy and ballistic first hour that doesn’t give the audiences any room to think about what they are seeing. The fact that this portion of the film appealed to me visually and had enough intrigue to keep me invested made it even more likable. I loved the first mission that Chris Pratt and his team undertook. The first time we see the aliens referred to as Whitespikes, they leave quite an impression. The team is on the clock to make their way with some vital data and was supposed to save some scientists. How this entire portion plays out and how the action is envisioned was engrossing. The fact that all of it happens within a finite time and the men are racing against time to save themselves and the data was an interesting way of setting up the kind of threats that they were up against.
The next action sequence involving the capture of an important Whitespike was also extremely well done. I had my heart in my mouth in this sequence. I was sure that none of the important characters would be killed but still, the director was able to extract enough tension and thrills to make an impact with this sequence. Sadly, the film let me down terribly in the climactic action sequence that was so pedestrian and mindless that I questioned myself if I was still watching the same film. For a film that began with such a roar and where the antagonists were such a marauding and overpowering species of aliens, the ending should have been bolder, grittier, bloodier, and a lot harder for the protagonists to pull off. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that by the end of it all, the heroes make a mockery of the seriousness and danger associated with the aliens that they had themselves built up for over two hours in the film.
There is a lull between the first and the second action sequence wherein we see Chris Pratt catch up with the character of Col. Forester played by Yvonne Strahovski and try to understand what is happening in the future and what his role in all of it is. This is the first time that the audiences get a breather and we immediately start noticing the gaping holes in the narrative and logic. Lapses in logic and storytelling blunders cannot be a good thing for even an over-the-top sci-fi film that borders on the line of being comedic about its own plotline and has Chris Pratt playing the protagonist with his trademark goofy sensibility.
Post the second action sequence, the plot and the suspension of disbelief go out of control. The story takes one bizarre turn after another. The proceedings leading up to the climax test not only the audiences’ ability to take it all in the name of entertainment but also their patience at being considered so stupid that they would play along with such mind-numbingly atrocious storytelling.
Some of the performances also don’t help. Yvonne Strahovski is a pretty face but she just didn’t get the beat of the character that she was playing. She kept a straight face throughout her performance irrespective of what situation she was in. Her essays reminded me of our very own Janhvi Kapoor and that meant that she was pretty bad. For her character to work there had to be a semblance of chemistry between her and Chris Pratt. There was none and every time she tried to emote in an emotional moment, it made me laugh out loud. The fact that the writing for the character was equally bad only made things worse for her.
Chris Pratt after the initial flare gradually spiralled into an abyss from which he couldn’t lift himself up. Some of Yvonne Strahovski’s cardboard-ish dialogue delivery and poor acting seemed to have rubbed on to him as he delivered his lines and behaved in a way that was for most parts contraindicative to the flamboyant and goofy charm that he generally brings to his characters. The stunning and ferocious Betty Gilpin whom I loved in The Hunt is given such an inconsequential character here that I felt bad for her. She definitely deserved a better character and a longer essay.
The Tomorrow War started off with a bang but fizzled out quickly because of its terrible writing, poor execution, and atleast one bad performance. The idea had merit but for it to have germinated into a bankable and effective story, it had to have had a lot more logic and a lot less suspension of disbelief. The action sequences were good and the aliens felt menacing to start with but with the lack of a good story and logic, all that was good came undone very quickly. This is definitely an opportunity missed.