July 13, 2021

The latest CGI-fueled action flick available to stream on Amazon Prime, The Tomorrow War, is part Terminator and part Independence Day: The film packs an alien invasion, time travel, and a combined, global military effort to save humanity, led by an American.

Directed by Chris McKay, the summer blockbuster was kicked around for months, first slated to debut last Christmas, then rescheduled for July 23 of this year. It wasn’t until Amazon decided to further buoy its streaming service with original content that it was purchased and made available to stream.

Dan Forester (Chris Pratt), a dejected veteran, is at a low point, unable to find work outside remedial pedagogy as a schoolteacher. But his stale, suburban life problems seem trivial when a troupe of armed mercenaries spawn out of thin air on live television, claiming to be the last remnants of humanity’s resistance against an alien armada from the year 2051.

Their warning triggers a worldwide military draft, spanning across gender and age, that sends people from the present to fight a war in the future. Forester is soon conscripted and sent into the future with a ragtag team, the majority of whom had less prior exposure to firearms than Vox’s writing staff.

Once in combat, Forester quickly sheds his newly acquired minivan lifestyle as his natural instincts kick in. He’s immediately transformed from the goofy Chris Pratt character into a veritable GI. It is Forester’s aplomb and awareness in the war zone that keep his team of recently armed civilians, such a college professor Charlie (Sam Richardson), alive and sane.

From its CGI aliens, crash-landed UFOs, and puzzling time travel gimmicks, The Tomorrow War is a hodgepodge of ’90s sci-fi cliches held together by a delightfully libertarian sentiment. The overarching theme of the film could have been pieced together by Paul Ryan.

In the third act of the film, upon Forester finding the dormant alien nest, the government denies Forester clearance to investigate the site and potentially prevent the war altogether — by winning it before it ever starts.

Sidestepping the bureaucracy, Forester ropes in his estranged father (JK Simmons), who sardonically scoffs at the United Nations, “Absolutely, go tell the U.N., and they can talk about it until we’re all dead.” Meanwhile, Charlie adds, “We get the world governments involved, it could turn into a nightmare.”

Jettisoning their faith in government, the small cadre of Americans embark on a privately funded mission to save humanity — the most fitting plotline to a Jeff Bezos-backed film one could conjure up.

The Tomorrow War largely fulfills its role as a generic summer blockbuster. Like a contemporary Independence Day, it pits humanity in a global war against interstellar invaders. What is lacks in cinematic depth or emotion, it makes up for with the lighthearted charisma of Chris Pratt and a stellar supporting cast. While at times overdone, the CGI-fueled action sequences all feel primed for the big screen, more than flaunting the film’s $200 million budget. It may not be fodder for credentialed critics or film festival galas, but it’s a great way to unwind on a weekend with a tub of popcorn and a copy of The Fountainhead.

Originally Published at The Washington Examiner