Main cast: Chris Pratt (James Daniel Forester Jr), Yvonne Strahovski (Colonel Muri Forester), Betty Gilpin (Emmy Forester), Sam Richardson (Charlie), Edwin Hodge (Dorian), Jasmine Mathews (Lt Hart), Keith Powers (Major Greenwood), and JK Simmons (James Daniel Forester Sr)
Director: Chris McKay
I know someone that has Armageddon on her favorite movies of all time, and I gave her some teasing about it, because come on, it’s Armageddon. Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer, brainless explosions, so much cheese factor… who could ever love that thing? Well, now I can’t make fun of people for loving that movie anymore, because people, The Tomorrow War is my Armageddon. I can’t help it. I’m a weak, emotional person vulnerable to manipulative heart-tugging moments accompanied by a sweeping score in the background, and come on, this is a movie with Star-Lord and Miranda Lawson working together to kick ass.
Basically, one fine day, a mysterious portal emerges in the middle of a soccer match in the year 2022, and soldiers claiming to be from 2051 step out of it to tell the world that, in 2048, vicious aliens these people called the Whitespikes will show up and within a few short years have reduced the world’s population of humans to the last five digits or so. They are here through the “Jumplink” in a desperate attempt to get people from 2022 to go to the future, to hide the remnant humans win the war against the Whitespikes.
One of the people drafted is James Daniel Forester Jr. Dan is ex-military now stuck in the soul-draining job of teaching biology to a bunch of disinterested kids, and he is trying to seek a better job for himself. He has a loving wife, Emmy, and a daughter, Muri, who is hoping to be a scientist just like her beloved father. Dan is estranged from his father, James Sr, due to the man leaving him and his mother after James Sr suffered from PTSD upon coming back from his own wartime gig. All this comes into play when Dan discovers that one of the people leading the last human resistance in 2051 is his daughter Muri, now grown up, and she has summoned him because she needs him to carry out a task that can save humanity.
Now, I’m not going to sugar coat this: The Tomorrow War is a big, dumb, epic man-against-monsters film full of plot holes, dumb actions, incompetent soldiers, and explosions. Yet, everything comes together perfectly. Even the can’t-stop-talking black guy and the stoic-quiet-black-guy clichés here aren’t too annoying. Yes, everything that happens here is predictable and even formulaic to a tee. Nothing here is remotely surprising. The plot is paper-thin at times, relying mostly on big spectacles to carry itself to the finish line.
This, on paper, should be a solid three-oogie movie at best because the explosions are fun and the action scenes are awesome.
However, Chris Pratt and Yvonne Strahovski have no business acting the hell out of their roles. They don’t have to, but my god, they go beyond the call of duty in this one, completely elevating the materials they have to work with until I find myself tearing up at key emotional moments. It’s so embarrassing. I am crying at this kind of movie—there goes what little of my credibility! Yet, I can only take a deep breath by the time the credits roll and smile happily, wiping away at the last bits of tear streaks on my cheeks, because it feels so good to be feeling and living through emotions in a time like this, when I mostly just go through each day in a numbed zombie-like manner as the days and weeks seem to just come together in a blur… dear lord, watching this movie has me feeling like I’ve come alive, bursting out of a cocoon or something, and that dopamine rush feels so, so good.
I’ve always felt that Ms Strahovski is an underrated actor, and I’m not saying this just because Miranda Lawson is one of my favorite characters in the Mass Effect series. Here, she goes the whole nine yards, giving Muri a right balance of vulnerability and strength, and she perfectly complements Chris Pratt. Oh, Chris Pratt. Sure, he can be goofy and he can be funny, and he can also play the action hero very well. Here, however, he switches effortlessly from funny man to action man to a man bursting with feels that break my heart that… will it be embarrassing to say that I’d divorce Hugh Jackman for him in a heartbeat? Oh wait, this is the current year; who needs to divorce one another, let’s all just come together and share the love!
As you can tell by now, my review and my love of The Tomorrow War is entirely guided by feels. There is a great cast here that elevates its otherwise derivative and average script and story, and the movie also goes from lows to highs and lows again in a large-scale, epic war-of-all-wars scale that gives me this wonderful rush. This movie, or more specifically Mr Pratt and Ms Strahovski, makes me remember what it is like to experience so much emotions again, what it feels for that heady feeling of excitement to rush through my veins, and experience the beautiful catharsis of just letting my tears pour as I take in a scene that tugs so hard at my heartstrings.
Maybe if I watched this again after the COVID-19 saga is done with… nah, I’m sure I will still love this one to bits. Oh don’t judge. You people have that Armageddon movie, that cheesy Aerosmith song, and that Leaving on a Jet Plane monstrosity of a scene. I won’t make fun of you all anymore, I swear, and we can all now coexist like shiny happy people holding hands in our bubble of mutual shame. Alright?