The Tomorrow War: Sloppy sci-fi

The Tomorrow War (film on Amazon Prime Video); Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, JK Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson; Direction: Chris McKay; Rating: * * (two stars)


Chris Pratt probably wants to take off from where pa-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger left. The deal here seems like Pratt’s seriously giving a shot to the idea of being Hollywood’s ultimate machoman. Beefed up, even shirtless in the odd scene, Pratt is out to use his new executive-produced starrer as a showcase of mighty machismo. And if Arnie gave hunk factor a sci-fi twist with the “Terminator” flicks, Pratt is gunning to get the combo right in “The Tomorrow War”. Small mercies, he doesn’t try drawling “I’ll be ba-a-ck”.

Pratt shouldn’t try these run-of-the-mill Hollywood action prototypes really, he doesn’t fit the bill. The guy made a mark all those years ago with understated comic timing in the sitcom “Parks And Recreation”, and his quirky turn as Peter Quill/Star-Lord in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was fun to watch, too. In “The Tomorrow War”, Pratt’s attempt at redefining image is far from impressive, more so because the film hardly has a storyline that demands your attention.

The script introduces Pratt as Dan Forester, soldier turned school teacher. His life is in for turmoil when people from the future arrive seeking help. In about three decades from now, the earth has been invaded by aliens and the world needs more soldiers to fight the war. Dan is among present-day recruits who are enlisted to travel to the future and save Earth.

A motley bunch fending off alien attack to save the world is a Hollywood formula that’s almost as old as Will Smith’s career and “Independence Day”. The attempted novelty here is the element of time travel being added to the plot, aimed at shaking up things a bit. The idea doesn’t add to much because Zach Dean’s writing and Chris McKay’s direction never rise above mediocrity.

The film seems stretched at a runtime of two hours and 20 minutes, mainly because it doesn’t have enough story to tell. Assembly-line CGI and standard sci-fi action fill the frames as the narrative labours ahead. The odd enjoyable performance moments come from JK Simmons and Yvonne Strahovski.

“The Tomorrow War” isn’t a good endorsement for the OTT movement. After “Extraction” last year, it would seem like the only Hollywood biggies headed for digital platform premieres are the ones that would probably struggle to make the cut as big-screen box office winners.