December 2022, Christmas is in the air, the party is in full swing and Dan and Emmy Forester have a house full of guests for the celebrations, watching the big match on the big television which is interrupted by the arrival of a contingent of armed soldiers in a flash of light broadcast; seen by a global audience, they announce that they have travelled from thirty years in the future where humanity is losing the tomorrow war against the Whitespikes.
Over the next year a worldwide operation is arranged to recruit soldiers to be sent to the future to aid the struggle, resulting in terrible casualties; with experience in Special Operations, Dan is pulled in and is declared suitable; given a weapon and the briefest intelligence on what to expect he is thrown into the deep end along with a group of inexperienced draftees to a disastrous first encounter where he finds himself the default leader.
Directed by Chris McKay with the same manic energy he brought to The Lego Batman Movie transferred to live action, The Tomorrow War is a valiant struggle against overwhelming odds as explosions, shouting and sheer momentum attempt to distract from the unavoidable paradox writer Zach Dean creates with his defiant violations of causality.
The script neither as intricate woven as Tenet nor as sharp as Starship Troopers despite the many similarities, it is structured more along the lines of a video game with specific quests to be completed against increasing numbers of Whitespikes and their “end of level” matriarch who holds the key to their marauding species, and possibly its destruction.
The future world possessed of a portal which allows a specific time displacement, oddly no technology other than complex genetic sequencing by montage seems to have advanced in the interim, certainly not weapons which might prove effective against the Whitespikes, nor do the visitors from the future seem keen to provide their recruits with any form of armour which might protect them against the barbs launched by the multi-appendaged monsters of sharp tooth and claw whose emergence remains an unexplained mystery.
Plundering the history of science fiction cinema with scenes lifted directly from The Thing from Another World, Alien, The X-Files: Fight the Future and more recently A Quiet Place, most apparent is Michael Anderson’s time travel thriller Millennium which at least understood enough to insist that those who were lifted from their timestreams could only be taken at the precise moment immediately before their established deaths in order to avoid compromising the future.
Led by Chris Pratt, playing Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord without the snazzy costume, for an actual time traveller he seems to have little comprehension of how time works, determined to save his adult daughter (Chuck’s Yvonne Strahovski) when following his orders will mean the tomorrow war will never take place, the enemy culled at the root and his child never placed in danger, able to return to his home of eternal Christmas, though if the Whitespikes didn’t emerge nor would he ever have been recruited in the first place; thus is the paradox.
Dan’s abandonment issues with conspiracy theorist father James (Justice League’s J K Simmons) reflected in Colonel Muri Forester’s coldness towards him, the attempts at emotional engagement are riddled by the network of plot holes which undermine The Tomorrow War, a conflict which might be interpreted as a metaphor for the devastation of global warming which reassuringly confirms that as civilisation collapses and the world population is reduced to around 500,000 survivors that the military will remain fully funded and largely ineffective.
The Tomorrow War is available now on Amazon Prime Video