The Tomorrow War review: "A cocktail of influences mashed up in the blockbuster blender"

Chris Pratt in The Tomorrow War
(Image: © Amazon Studios)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Good ideas get lost in an earnest sci-fi that doesn’t make the best use of Pratt’s charms. Cracking aliens, mind.

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A time travel/alien invasion sci-fi hybrid, The Tomorrow War starts with a bang. After a chaotic flash forward, we tip back to the present. With the nation watching, an American football game is halted by some young soldiers materialising on the pitch, announcing "We are you, 30 years in the future." In 11 months, humanity will be wiped out by savage aliens. With military forces running desperately short, the future humans have created a portal between now and 2051 to draft the public. Uncle Sam really does want you...

One such recruit is teacher, family man and chunky-brown-cardigan-wearer Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). "You’re tough?" laughs his wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin) "The man who cries through every cold!" Truth be told, with past military experience, he’s handy in a fight and is soon propelled into the future to fulfil his seven-day tour-of-duty – fighting against some horrifying-looking spidery aliens in Miami Beach, alongside the not-so-handy Charlie (Sam Richardson) and veteran cynic Dorian (Edwin Hodge).

The idea of suburban dads and soccer moms taking up arms to fight a race of alien critters is one of the tastier notions in Chris McKay’s film, even if Zach Dean’s script too often feels overly familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of Hollywood sci-fi. With a dash of Starship Troopers, a pinch of Aliens and The Thing, and a whole lotta Edge Of Tomorrow, it’s a cocktail of influences mashed up in the blockbuster blender.

There’s no issue here with the aliens: the CG beasties (dubbed the ‘White Spikes’) are terrifying. But while the narrative serves up some neat timey-wimey tricks, it’s also lumbered with a worthy subplot centred on J.K. Simmons (as Forester’s estranged father) and The Handmaid’s Tale star Yvonne Strahovski as a colonel from the future who’s leading the charge against the relentless Spikes.

There’s a lack of genuine emotional heft, not helped by some clunky dialogue (lines like "we are literally living on borrowed time"). But what the film really misses, amid several ear-splitting, CG-heavy alien-attack set-pieces, is humour. Which is a bit of a surprise given the involvement of Pratt and McKay (best known for The Lego Batman Movie). Despite some thrilling FX, you’re left wishing for a better Tomorrow.

The Tomorrow War is available now on Amazon Prime Video. For more, best sure to check out our lists of the best movies on Amazon and the best shows on Amazon available right now.

More info

DescriptionExplore space, meet alien races, and blow them up in this 4X space-sim with role-playing elements.
US censor rating"Rating Pending"
UK censor rating""
Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood.