'The Tomorrow War' Is Like If 'Tenet' Made Sense Directed by Chris McKay

Starring Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, Sam Richardson, Betty Gilpin, J.K. Simmons
'The Tomorrow War' Is Like If 'Tenet' Made Sense Directed by Chris McKay
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What if Tenet actually made sense? That's the basic elevator pitch of The Tomorrow War, an action blockbuster about travelling into the future to fight in a war that hasn't actually happened yet. It's not as stylish as Christopher Nolan's 2020 film, but it's possible to follow the plot — a major mark in The Tomorrow War's favour that makes it a solid summer popcorn flick.

Chris Pratt stars as Dan Forester, a former soldier in the Iraq War now living a happy and fulfilling life with his nice family, and people constantly thank him for his service. Go America! The military sure is great, huh? Anyhoo, all of that awesome combat experience makes him the perfect candidate when soldiers from 30 years in the future travel back to warn of the impending alien invasion that nearly wipes out humanity. Many people, including Dan, get conscripted to go back to the future and fight the human-eating aliens known as "White Spikes."

Beyond the marked similarity to Tenet, The Tomorrow War mixes the maximalist cheese of Michael Bay with alien invasion epics like Independence Day and Edge of Tomorrow. And within that lineage of disaster films, The Tomorrow War hits all the right beats. The family-centric first act is a little hokey — Dan's wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin) laughs way too hard at his non-existent jokes, and Pratt's all-American schtick feels like a relic of a bygone era — but things really get going once Dan heads to the alien-stricken Miami of the future.

The solid undercard includes J.K. Simmons in a menacing role as Dan's deadbeat dad, while fellow future fighters Charlie (Sam Richardson of Detroiters) and Cowan (Mike Mitchell of Love and the Doughboys podcast) each provide scene-stealing comic relief in supporting roles. The White Spikes are appropriately icky and intimidating, and the futuristic family drama hits a heartfelt emotional note that's corny but touching.

The Tomorrow War certainly doesn't transcend the sci-fi action genre — but as a film about time travel that offers thrills while actually making coherent sense, this alien invasion onto Amazon Prime is welcome. (Amazon Studios)