The timing for Chris Pratt’s exciting and meaningful The Tomorrow War is splendid. Believe it or not, it was 25 years ago today — a whole quarter of a century ago — that Americans were first queuing up to see what is still the alien invasion blockbuster of all alien invasion blockbusters, Independence Day.
Well, now it’s 2021, we’re just coming out of our own disaster movie thanks to the China Virus, and big summer blockbusters are streamed straight into our homes via this thing called the Internet.
What a world, huh?
Director Chris McKay’s $200 million Tomorrow War was originally scheduled to debut last Christmas. Then it was scheduled for July 23rd of this year. Then Amazon’s Jeff Bezos pulled up his couch cushions, found $200 million, and purchased it for his streaming service.
That was a smart move. Amazon Prime desperately needs to generate some goodwill for itself. There’s so much woke shit on the service, it’s become a bitter joke. Honestly, other than Bosch (season seven just arrived!), I’ve given up on Amazon and its vast library of oppressive, anti-art programming. If I want that, I have Netflix.
Anyway, Tomorrow War is unpretentious, exciting, occasionally moving, and just plain fun. Everything you want in a summer movie is right there: a big, straight-forward concept, terrific special effects, an appealing movie star (Pratt), a very appealing supporting cast, plenty of action, stakes that feel real, a load of laughs, likable characters, and a universal theme about the importance of family, most especially fathers.
The year is 2022, and Pratt is Dan Forester, an Iraq veteran whose suburban life isn’t what it’s supposed to be. He’s a pushing-40 public school teacher with big dreams crushed daily by students who find it impossible to get excited about photosynthesis. He resents his father (Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons) but also resembles him with his own blindness to the true blessings of life — a wife and daughter who love him.
With the planet’s eyes on the World Cup, soldiers from the year 2051 come crashing out of a wormhole to make a grim announcement. Aliens called Whitespikes have successfully conquered everything with only one purpose: to feed. As a result, the world’s population is down to 500,000, and the future needs soldiers from the past if mankind has any chance to survive longer than 30 years.
At first, the world rallies, but as the casualties pile up and survival rates plummet, the anti-war movement heats up, a compulsory draft is put in place, and due to the complexities of time travel, the recruits look like someone emptied the local Walmart.
Tomorrow War isn’t just entertaining and suspenseful; it’s also pretty intelligent (and admittedly dumb in a few spots). Thanks to a straightforward concept that doesn’t require a lot of explanation, screenwriter Zach Dean has time to touch not just on his central theme about family, but how a real war — I mean a bloody, brutal, desperate, and hopeless war — would psychologically affect people as a government that’s running out of options feeds its own citizens into a meat grinder. For the last 50 years, America’s been fighting TV Wars and throwing other people’s sons into the War Machine. Tomorrow War asks… What if the whole world was Stalingrad?
This sort of thematic heft adds something special to big sci-fi spectacular that’s never boring, frequently thrilling, and full of surprises.
The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. If you want to talk about earning audience goodwill, Simmons is cast as an unapologetic, anti-government survivalist … and, surprisingly, it’s a sympathetic portrayal. Sam Richardson pretty much steals the movie as Charlie, a draftee armed with hilarious one-liners (“I’m sure glad Will Smith didn’t live to see this.”) Edwin Hodge is excellent as Dorian, a hard-nosed veteran who continues to volunteer for reasons all his own.
And now, allow me to digress a bit…
When the history of Woke McCarthyism is finally written, racist Hollywood will never live down what its currently doing to its black artists. At long last black actors are getting the screen time they deserve, but look at how left-wing Hollywood’s exploiting and ruining them to push a fascist political agenda.
Audience goodwill is what creates long careers, but instead of allowing and/or guiding black actors into the kind of appealing projects and characters that generate the goodwill that ensures long careers, Hollywood’s using them as political cannon fodder.
You all know what I’m talking about…
For the past few years, in TV show after TV show, in movie after movie, we’re watching round after round of black talent destroyed by portraying unlikable, humorless, hectoring, smug, and bitter people in unlikable, humorless, hectoring, smug, and bitter projects. This is a gross injustice that will be remembered with infamy.
Tomorrow War, thankfully, does it exactly right. Here we have a cast loaded with black talent, and each and every one is appealing, relatable, funny, and perfectly imperfect. You cannot get enough of this cast, and shame on Hollywood forever for making this the exception instead of the rule.
I hope everyone enjoys their 4th. Remember to grill lots of meat, fire off lots of illegal fireworks, fly the flag, and give thanks to our Creator for this great country of ours. And don’t be surprised if sometime today, a bunch of people pop out of a wormhole to warn us about how the Woke Nazis won, and in the year 2052, air conditioning and fun have been outlawed.