Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt is back at it again – fighting aliens and saving the world. But as the actor, who doubles up as an executive producer for the film, rightly pointed out while promoting The Tomorrow War, the themes are quite relevant to today’s world. The release, although coincidental, is incredibly timely. The characters go through a crisis that could wipe out their world, something with which all of us can now relate.
Pratt plays the role of an ex-military man, Dan Forester, who is drafted once again, while he was living his life as a middle-aged chemistry teacher with a wife and daughter. But this time, he has to jump 30 years into the future to combat an alien invasion that’s threatening to end their future. The aliens are a bunch of brainless, senseless creatures, acting on survival instinct (one might even find a Stranger Things similarity here). You’d expect aliens to be more evolved in the future, but director Chris McKay did not waste time on his imagination there.
What he did spend time on, rather, was on striking a balance between emotional struggles, scientific research, and of course, his vision making his first live-action film, based on Zach Dean’s writing. McKay, coming straight from the animated The Lego Batman Movie, has a knack for engrossing action, injecting comedy into that action and letting the sweetness of the story, involving troubled father figures, shine through it all.
Dan decides to jump into the future to save the planet’s future for the sake of his 9-year-old daughter. His own relationship with his father is strained, and he is determined to prove that he can be different. Some of the most heartwarming scenes are between Pratt and Yvonne Strahovski, whose onscreen identity is one of the twists in this rather crisp tale. The Handmaid’s Tale fans will love Strahovski in a benevolent role this time.
JK Simmons as Dan’s father dazzles despite a brief role. Sam Richardson and Edwin Hodge as Pratt’s alien fighting buddies play their roles well. Richardson’s comic one-liners are balanced out by Hodge’s cynicism. Characters are largely unidimensional, leaving the intrigue for Simmons’ part only.
The Tomorrow War peddles optimism, and believes life gives you second chances. A problem in the future can be fixed in the present, an estranged relationship can be rebuild on a dangerous mission. It is this connection between the personal and the global that stays with you in the end. Despite stringing together heavy duty genres like action, sci-fi and time-travel, McKay ensures that The Tomorrow War’s heart is at the right place.
Paramount sold the film to Amazon Studios for USD 200 million, due to the global pandemic. It’s a shame that audiences will not get to watch it on the big screen. A spectacle like this definitely deserved a bigger canvas. The Tomorrow War doesn’t promise you mindblowing innovation, but will surely connect with you at a more emotional level.