I remember thinking this film looked pretty good when the trailer first came out. Who doesn’t like a solid sci-fi film with aliens running around right? Throw in a bit of time travel and now you’ve got a recipe for success. It’s a pretty good film with a fun premise and a lot going on. You could definitely have some fun with sequels and other idea to expand the franchise especially depending on what time travel rules you want to use.
The movie starts out with Dan unfortunately not getting the job that he was hoping for. It puts a bit of a damper on things but he tries to keep a brave face on. Then during the World Cup a bunch of soldiers appear from the future. They explain that humanity is currently losing a battle against a bunch of aliens in 2051. They’ve run out of people to die in the present so they need sacrifices from the current timeline. Perhaps if they throw enough bodies at the aliens then they can finally win. This quickly becomes common place and over time there is a global draft where everyone has to participate.
If you are selected then you are warped into the future to be destroyed by the aliens. If you somehow manage to survive then you come back to the present with significant PTSD. Your family is given a lot of money though so they will be well taken care of. People are very jaded with this because of the low survival rate and people begin to wonder if this war is even worth it. When Dan is selected his wife Emmy says he should run away but he doesn’t like his odds and so he goes into the future. Time to blast some aliens!
I think one of the interesting aspects of the film is deciding if you would support the future war. After all I do think the opposing side here has some good points. One, this war has been going on for years and there has been no noticeable victories or reason for hope on the human side. So it really seems like people are just being sent to their deaths instead of being out there to make a difference. After a point, what is the use in sending more people to a war that has effectively already been lost? You also have to take a whole lot at face value from these soldiers because you don’t know for sure that the future is exactly as they say it is. The army won’t even let people see what these supposed aliens look like. What if they’re lying? If this was an M. Night Shymalan film you get the feeling that it all would have been a big trick and they were fighting in another country or something.
So the skepticism is absolutely justified. Personally I wouldn’t be a fan of fighting in the war and would be one of the ones trying to stop it. It’s deeper than a “This isn’t my problem” kind of mindset but just throwing your life away seems like a really bad idea. The army would need to be a lot more transparent about exactly what our lives are being used for before I could actually open myself up to the idea. It would also be a little concerning how the whole world just went along with this idea so quickly. It wouldn’t pass the smell test.
Of course the aliens are real and Dan finds this out the hard way as he goes to the future. These things look like mini Clovers from Cloverfield which seems to be an American monster thing at this point where Clover is used as the base for quite a few different creatures. They definitely look really intense and you would not want to have to fight one. The movie does a great job of really showing just how scary these creatures are and why people would get intimidated and traumatized so quickly. They would absolutely be enough to give a person nightmares. They’re also very durable as the guns don’t do much to them unless you strike at the weak point. A ton of people die during every skirmish for this reason.
Dan used to be a soldier and so he does a good job of adapting. I liked that he wasn’t like your typical rookie who has to ask a ton of questions and is constantly getting into trouble. Instead he puts his military experience to good use and is always ready for the fight. He does well all things considered and does have to make a lot of tough choices the whole time. He’s a character that is easy to sympathize with and root for.
Then you have Charlie who is effectively the comic relief here. He didn’t want to be here but it’s not like you can say no to the draft so he does his best. He’s a scientist which does come in handy later on in the film. Another ally is Dorian who has been through this draft several times at this point. He joins optionally because he would like to die on the battlefield and so he keeps on testing his limits. It’s really impressive that he lasted so long and the guy has great fundamentals. He makes sure to keep on learning from each of his trips and this pays off.
In the future Dan also meets his daughter Muri who is all grown up now. She’s a solid general even if I wouldn’t say all of the plans are sound. It’s got to be a big shock to be working with her father but Muri keeps her emotions grounded and does a good job of continuing to lead. She has a plan to possibly end this whole war but it won’t be easy and so the project is mainly kept a secret from most people. It’s no guarantee of victory after all so she can only hope that this will work out. It was nice to see her and Dan team up.
Dan’s father James also gets a fairly big role. The two of them had a falling out and the reasons for this are explained later on in the movie. Well this is James’ big chance to step up now since Dan really needs him and it’s a life or death moment. Both of them are able to put their history to the side to try and help out which was great. James was a fun character. He could certainly be gruff and is probably not the biggest people person but without him Dan would have absolutely been in trouble.
Finally you have Dan’s wife Emmy who has the tough job of working with survivors through their PTSD. It’s not a fun job and of course that’s a big part of why she doesn’t want Dan to leave since she knows this could happen to him. She was very supportive the whole time through thick and thin so she was a very solid character.
The movie has a number of plot twists and developments as things go on. They help to keep you on your toes the whole time and you expect this since there are aliens and time travel running around. There is one twist about Dan that is a little hard to believe though even if the circumstances had been different. I suppose within the multiverse of timelines it can happen though so you just have to really not think of this Dan as the same with an alternate version. This film isn’t portrayed as a multiverse though as it’s more of a linear timestream in which case I don’t think the twist would hold true.
I liked the time travel rules here though. Basically you can anchor the present and future together. Both are still moving forward so once you pick a spot then you are stuck to it. Additionally if the past you dies then the future you and your kids will immediately die if you were going to have them after the adventure. It’s a direct time travel system with clear rules that are easy to understand. It works well within this context and also explains why they wouldn’t just time travel to a few years ago to win the war quickly. There are rules that they just have to abide by.
It would have been fun to have seen the initial invasion by the aliens though. Maybe that could be for a prequel or something. There are a lot of ways to handle an alien invasion film though and starting off in the middle always works well. There is a lot of suspense here and the battles are on point. The graphics look good as well and the movie holds up well. I think it would have made for a fun theater watch if it had gone there.
There will be some times where you have to suspend your disbelief though when the humans are fighting the creatures. They are so fast and so powerful that you can’t outrun them and Dan has some plot armor to stay alive during some of the fights. It feels like the aliens drag things out against him when they were one hit KO’ng the other characters. The very last fight on the mountain is also hard to buy into. I just have to say that the humans are losing that fight. There’s no way they come out on top especially with how long the fight dragged on.
The final fight is rather brutal with the battle going back and forth but humans are going to lose that battle of attrition every time. It made for an epic climax but I didn’t buy into the outcome. The film can be a little brutal and violent with the humans and aliens fighting. It’s nothing like Alien or anything like that but these creatures are certainly not taking prisoners. You can expect a lot of big injuries and fatalities throughout. It does really show why the casualties kept going up at the rate with which the aliens were slaughtering everyone though. The film doesn’t really linger on any moment too long though so I wouldn’t say it’s anything that should hit you too hard for the most part. Mainly it’s standard thriller stuff.
Overall, The Tomorrow War is a good alien invasion movie. The body count is definitely very high with just about everyone dying in the future and a ton in the present. This was not going to be an easy fight for the human race that’s for sure. There’s a lot of avenues you can take for a sequel so it’ll be interesting to see how that goes. The ending probably could have been a bit happier and I probably would have changed one scene but ultimately it’s got a lot of replay value throughout.