The Tomorrow War (2021) — Sullying the geeky heritage of time travel

“I hate to disagree with Conspiracy Santa!”

Justin’s rating: Pratt-ling on

Justin’s review: The Tomorrow War may have conjured up the single dumbest time travel scenario I’ve ever witnessed in a movie — and I’ve seen Hot Tub Time Machine. It’s something that even Doc Brown wouldn’t be able to diagram on a chalkboard for a dim witted teenager if his life depended on it.

Apparently in the 2050s, an alien race called the Whitespikes have all but wiped out humanity. Utilizing the Terminator protocol, the survivors jump back in time to 2022. What for, you ask? To help the nations prepare for the fight? To bring back advanced tech to give the world a jumpstart on the future? To research the alien threat during a peaceful 30 years?

Nope — they’ve come back to kindly ask everyone if they wouldn’t mind stepping through a time portal into the future and becoming cannon fodder. Other than appearing with some special effects, the future soldiers offer up no proof of what they’re saying. Yet for whatever reason — the movie seriously hand-waves away this part — all governments agree to a “worldwide draft” that forces common, untrained civilians to fight a week in the 2050s without any preparation or even a single picture of what the aliens look like. Supposedly, everyone chosen are people who would have died before the alien invasion anyway, but this is the movie trying to cover its plot holes a little too late in the game.

I mean, I can see what they’re trying to do, but it’s the laziest execution of a complex time travel plot possible. There’s very little explanation in the first 20 minutes when a whole lot more is needed, and virtually nobody explains why past people must fight a future war when it’s still the past. When there’s still plenty of time. To get an idea of how ridiculous this is, it’d be like the U.S. in the ’70s traveling back to the 1800s to draft farmers and ditch diggers to fight in Vietnam.

Anyway, there’s so much hand waving that a mild wind storm arises, and out of the dust emerges hero of the hour Dan (Chris Pratt). Now Pratt has become a modern action star for good reason — a combination of charm, jokes, and ripped abs — but there’s a clear difference from the movies he’s actually putting his all into and The Tomorrow War. This should’ve been called The Today Paycheck for all he clearly thinks of it.

So a bunch of peeps jump to the future, fight a lot, and try to figure out a way to win the war (which, perhaps not surprisingly, exists in the past because I need a reason to throw my hands up in the air). It’s too bad that this is the predictable route the movie takes, because I think it had a gem of a good idea about the problems with a worldwide draft of unsuitable candidates and a backlash against that. But that’s not the thread this movie pulls on, and so it is dropped.

This is the kind of failure that, in better hands, could’ve been an above-average piece of scifi war entertaining. It’s not completely boring, nor a total trash fire, but I assure you that it will fail to live up to any expectations that you put upon it.

Didja notice?

  • Always nice to have a convenient pool to airdrop into
  • Tuna Santa
  • “Volcanoes are nature’s fury!”
  • “Did I get a good Yelp review?”
  • Lots of upside-down corpses
  • “Well duh” is not something you expect to hear in a 2021 movie
  • You just know that when the soundtrack cuts out for a while, it’s waiting for the aliens to attack
  • Yeah, run toward the red smoke
  • “Where are we?” one character asks, answered by the subtitles declaring this the Dominican Republic

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