‘The Tomorrow War’ Review: A Familiar but Sometimes Entertaining Alien Action Adventure

To be honest, this is a better “Independence Day” sequel than 2016’s “Resurgence…”

“The Tomorrow War” stars Chris Pratt as a modern-day army veteran who is selected to travel to the year 2051 in order to stop an impending alien invasion. Yvonne Strahovski, J. K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, and Sam Richardson also star, while Chris McKay makes his live-action directorial debut.

Like many films, this was shot with the intention of being a theatrical release but after Ms. Rona came around it was sold by Paramount to Amazon for $200 million(!). The film’s blockbuster presence adds some credibility to Prime’s catalog for the streaming wars, and even if it’s nothing groundbreaking it’s still worth checking out.

Chris Pratt was thrust into movie stardom in 2014 and at one point was among the highest-paid and sought after names in Hollywood. However outside the MCU and “Jurassic World” films he has struggled to find equal success, with “Passengers” and the ensemble piece “Magnificent 7” being met with lukewarm critical and financial reception. Pratt follows the Tom Cruise and Will Smith route with “Tomorrow War,” starring as a military man who is tasked to stop an alien invasion. He is basically playing himself at this point, able to be convincing in battle scenes and charming in the dialogue ones. Nothing more should be expected and nothing more is given.

The supporting cast does what they’re paid to do, with J.K. Simmons adding some gravitas to his scenes as Pratt’s father and Betty Gilpin (in an underutilized role) having a welcome presence as Pratt’s wife. Sam Richardson, coming off the very fun horror-comedy “Werewolves Within,” adds some nice comic relief, which doesn’t come at the expense of undercutting the dramatic scenes, a welcome change from the Marvel formula.

The action here is pretty fun. There are tactical stealth sequences and big sprawling shootouts. McKay and cinematographer Larry Fong do a good job at staging things, and for a PG-13 film this manages to get away with a fair amount of carnage (soldiers are tossed like rag dolls and aliens get shot to pieces). The creature design is overall pretty cool, better than those in “Independence Day” or “A Quiet Place,” and the story of how/why the creatures arrived to Earth is unique.

The film’s biggest problem is one shared with many modern blockbuster, in that it runs longer than its story allows. Clocking in at 138 minutes, there is maybe 110 of worthwhile content here; there’s even a large battle that I was sure was the climax but when I checked the timestamp there was still 40 minutes remaining. I’m all for films being long, some of the best movies ever made are three+ hours, but it has to justify its length; “Tomorrow War” simply doesn’t.

Because it’s on Amazon Prime it’s easier to recommend “The Tomorrow War” because you can pause or check a text during some of the slower parts. Pratt remains a fun leading man and the effects are pretty solid, and for the most part the film knows what it is. The comparisons to “Independence Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow” are inevitable but hell, this is the summer movie season, sometimes we need a little dumb action, even if it is on a flatscreen instead of the big screen.

Critics Rating: 6/10

Amazon Studios

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