In his magnum opus, Interstellar, Nolan quoted, “Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.” A similar theme follows Chris McKay’s The Tomorrow War. Externally, it’s a Sci-Fi Alien War Film. But thematically, it is a tale about a father who saves his daughter and his family.
Quite matching to the archetypes that Chris Pratt has played on screen, his colossal War Sci-Fi portrays him as an underdog biology teacher. His visit to the future and the revelations act as a turning point altering his internal conflict. Later on, he faces the external conflicts with bang-on action sequences, directed by Chris McKay and shot by Larry Fong. Undoubtedly, it is one of the year’s best films and might give some film enthusiasts, “Nolan-kind” thrills. Let’s take a deep look at the world created by Zach Dean.
‘The Tomorrow War’ Plot Summary
Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is a high school biology teacher, but that wasn’t his dream. The fable begins with a call that ignites Dan’s passion for working as a researcher at the Army Research Lab. However, his dreams are quickly shattered because he is short of private sector experience.
Dan’s wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin), and his daughter, Muri, comfort him on the 2022 Christmas night. However, rejection is visible on his face. Without giving much space to despair, the narrative introduces soldiers from the future coming out of a purple-charged time warp. They land on a football pitch and interrupt the ongoing FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022. Dan, his family, and friends witness the impossible on their screens.
These warriors of tomorrow seek help from their predecessors to fight a war against human-eating aliens, Whitespikes, who will exterminate humanity in around 30 years.
A news report quickly weaves up the missing links. The world unites to send off their military professionals into the future through futuristic time tech called Jumplinks. The soldiers from the past are wielded with a mechanized arm that will send them to the future and bring them back after seven days. However, the survival rate is close to the minimum.
Dan’s world comes crashing down when he gets drafted for “The Tomorrow War.“
Why was Dan Forester drafted?
The military had a device that predicted the time of death. It generated Dan’s death certificate and pronounced him dead on 13th October 2030 (approx. after seven years).
Dan decoded the pattern and finally discovered that the government was drafting only those who would die soon. Dan concluded, “For the time jump to occur, we have to be dead in the time we’re jumping to.” This peculiar selection helped them to avoid the time paradox. Many of the future soldiers haven’t been born in real-time. Thus, it worked both ways, “either you aren’t born in the past, or you are dead in the future.”
A jump-band was wielded on Dan’s arm to facilitate his jump to and from the future war. The band got synched with his unique biosignature, and thus, it became a fate he couldn’t evade.
Jump Link Explained
Jump Link was a temporal displacement device housed in a fortified location in the middle of the ocean (in the future). It was connected to the jump-band wielded on the arms of the soldiers.
But if Jump Link were time-travel equipment, then it would have transported individuals to any timeline? To remove this time flaw, the creators underlined that time flows in one direction in the Jump Links. The jump links were placed 30 years apart and thus could transport people back and forth between these two timelines only.
The Jump Link tech was still in Work-in-progress, but it was authorized for human transport due to an extinction-level event.
What was Future Muri working on?
After a technical glitch, Dan and his team crashed near Miami beach in the future. Romeo Command instructed an Iraq War Veteran, Dan Forester, to rescue her research team from a lab before the aerial bombardment blows up the city.
Dan failed to rescue the research team but retrieved experimental blue ampoules, as requested by Romeo Command. Later, Dan discovered that Romeo is none other than his adult daughter Col. Muri Forester (Yvonne Strahovski).
Muri told Dan that she was researching a toxin to wipe out Whitespikes. However, the blue ampoules were usable on male Whitespikes. Still, the rare female ones were able to break off the toxin compound. Dan and Muri abducted the female Whitespike to conduct researches and create a lethal toxin bond that would exterminate the alien species.
How did Dan die in the ‘original timeline’?
The curious questions centering around his death troubled Dan’s peace. He asked Muri about his end and what happened before he died.
At the beach, Muri revealed that Dan left the family much before he actually hit the grave. When Muri was 12, Dan and Emmy got separated, and two years later, they got divorced. When she was 16, Dan got caught in a car accident and took his last breath in the hospital.
In his final years, Dan never seemed happy with his life. Why? The opening of the film established James Daniel Forester as an underachiever. He was passionate about working in a research lab but ended up as a high school biology teacher. In the original timeline, if the soldiers from the future would have not visited the past, then Dan would have overthought Arthur’s rejection and depressed himself. Later, he might have destroyed his happy family.
In my personal opinion, Dan’s father, James (J. K. Simmons), suffered from similar disappointment in his life and left Dan and his mother when Dan was young. Repeating the sins of his father, Dan did the same. He left his family. Muri didn’t want Dan to walk away, but he was gone, much like Dan didn’t want his father to give up on him.
A visit to the future was Dan’s journey of transformation. It gave him a second chance and an opportunity to break the cycle of absent parenting. It is for this intricate layer, I sincerely believe, that for many, The Tomorrow War could be a science fiction film. Still, I believe it’s a tale about a father-children relationship that gives a second chance to the weary characters to redeem their past by scrutinizing their future.
White Spikes Origins
In the future, Muri informed Dan that the first Whitespike attack occurred in northern Russia, 2048. But they couldn’t find any spaceship entering earth’s atmosphere and thus concluded that these aliens just appeared on Earth’s surface. Emmy theorized that the aliens started attacking in 2048, but that doesn’t mean that’s when they got there. The future soldiers might be searching for Whitespike origins in the wrong year.
Charlie (Sam Richardson) investigated a Whitespike tooth and found out traces of Chinese volcanic ash. Dan’s student Martin deduced that the Changbai Volcano erupted in 946 A.D. and blew ash over half of the world. The ash possibly would have found its way to Russia. He supported his theory by scientific research in which ash sediments were found during deep drilling of Russia’s largest glacier.
Dan thought Whitespike were living under the depth of the glacier and dug their way up. But it wasn’t the case. Due to global warming, polar ice melted drastically, and by 2048, it thawed out. It is how the aliens found their way to the surface of the Earth.
In Severnaya, Russia, Dan found an alien spaceship transporting Whitespike but crashed on Earth. These alien species were bred inside the ship as planet-clearing weapons. However, their target wasn’t Earth. It was just ill-fated that it crashed on Earth.
‘The Tomorrow War’ Ending Explained
Dan and his team mass-produced a toxic compound formulated by Muri (from the future). The team reached Russia and injected the aliens with the compound. However, before the task could be concluded, few Whitespike comes out of their deep sleep. The soldiers also found a hive of Whitespike inside the spaceship, waiting to hatch their pods and annihilate the planet.
Dorian exploded the C-4 inside the spaceship, destroying the hive. However, a mother, Whitespike, sneaks away. In the end, Dan and James gunfight against the female Whitespike and injects her with the toxic compound. It explodes as the toxin spreads out in its bloodstream. Thus, the last Whitespike was successfully knocked down, thereby saving the Earth from a catastrophe.
Dan invited James to meet his granddaughter, Muri. Dan gave his father a second chance, just like The Tomorrow War gave Dan a chance to redeem himself. He pledged to safeguard the future of his happy family, no matter how many rejections he might face in life. Like the angel told George Bailey, “Remember, no person is a failure who has friends and family.“
The Tomorrow War is a 2021 Sci-Fi Alien War Film directed by debut director Chris McKay. The film is written by Zach Dean and stars Chris Patt in the lead role.