The Tomorrow War is a 2021 American military science fiction action film directed by Chris McKay in his live-action directorial debut.
Also known as Ghost Draft (working title).
In December 2022, biology teacher and former Green Beret, Dan Forester, fails to get a job at a prestigious research center. While he is watching the World Cup at a Christmas party, soldiers from the year 2051 arrive to warn that humanity is on the brink of extinction due to alien invaders: the Whitespikes. In response, members of the world’s militaries are sent into the future, but fewer than 20% survive, prompting a world wide draft.
After a year of the draft and a growing anti-war movement, there is little hope for humanity’s survival. Dan receives a notice that he has been drafted and reports with other draftees to basic training. Dan deduces with fellow draftee Charlie that in order to prevent a paradox, those drafted have already died before the war starts.
The draftees are sent forward in time to Miami Beach but few survive, having been dropped in the incorrect location above the city. The draftees are ordered by Colonel Forester to rescue nearby lab personnel before the area is sterilized. The draftees discover the lab personnel dead but recover their research. Dan radios to command about the situation, and is instructed to escape the area. Many of the draftees are killed with only a handful able to reach safety.
The survivors wake up in a military encampment in the Dominican Republic. Dan is asked to report to Colonel Forester, who is his grown daughter Muri. She requests him to accompany her on a mission to capture a female Whitespike, which are rarer than the males typically encountered. They cage the female, only to have hundreds of males descend on their position. As the helicopter with the female lifts off, Dan and Muri escape to a beach and radio for rescue. Dan and Muri are transported to the Jumplink, located on a fortified oil rig in the middle of the ocean.
Dan and his daughter work on a toxin that can kill the captured female. They find a match for killing the aliens, just as they start to breach the base. As the Whitespikes attack the base, the formerly captive female spears Col. Forester with one of her spikes. She plummets from the gantry and Dan follows her off just before he is transported back to the past with the toxin to mass produce it. Dan tries to give the toxin to the military so it can be sent back to the future, but learns that the Jumplink is offline, having been destroyed by the Whitespikes. The world has become chaotic with the news that the Jumplink is offline, foretelling the war was lost.
Brainstorming with his wife, he deduces that the Whitespikes did not arrive in 2048, but came much earlier. Further research leads him to theorize the Whitespikes are actually already on Earth, and that global warming caused their release when they thawed out and emerged from under the ice caps.
Dan leads a mission to Russia to prove his theory and finds an alien ship in a glacier. The team debates telling the world about the problem, but decides to end the threat right then and there. Once inside, they realize that the alien ship is not actually a Whitespikes ship, and that the Whitespikes were cargo for the deceased alien crew. They proceed with injecting the dormant Whitespikes with the toxin; this kills those injected but wakes all the remaining Whitespikes. The team realizes the initial Whitespikes they find are only a drop in the bucket, and decide to detonate the ship manually. The team successfully blows up the alien ship once they realise it is the only method of containment, but one female escapes. Dan and his father track down the female and are able to kill it in a frenetic battle to the death, preventing the future war from occurring. Dan returns home to his wife and daughter, secure in knowing that the future has been altered.
- Chris Pratt as Dan Forester, a biology teacher and former Green Beret who served two tours in Iraq.
- Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Muri Forester, Dan’s adult daughter.
- Ryan Kiera Armstrong as young Muri Forester.
- J.K. Simmons as James Forester, Dan’s father, an anti-government extremist and Vietnam veteran.
- Betty Gilpin as Emmy Forester, Dan’s wife and a therapist for returning draftees.
- Sam Richardson as Charlie, a draftee with a PhD in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
- Edwin Hodge as Dorian, a cancer-stricken draftee on his third tour of duty.
- Jasmine Mathews as Lieutenant Hart.
- Keith Powers as Major Greenwood.
In addition, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Mike Mitchell portray Norah and Cowan, respectively, who sacrifice themselves to save Dan’s original team, while Seth Scenall portrays Martin, Dan’s student who deduces the thousand-year-old origin and Russian location of the Whitespikes.
It was announced in February 2019 that Chris Pratt was in negotiations to star in the film (then known as Ghost Draft) and that it would be directed by Chris McKay. In July, Yvonne Strahovski was cast. J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Theo Von, Jasmine Mathews, Keith Powers were cast in August, with Mary Lynn Rajskub, Edwin Hodge, and additional cast joining in September. The movie was later retitled The Tomorrow War. Creature designer Ken Barthelmey designed the film’s aliens.
Filming began on 01 September 2019 in Lincolnton, Georgia, Atlanta and Iceland, and wrapped on 12 January 2020.
The film was initially scheduled for release on 25 December 2020 by Paramount Pictures, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was rescheduled to 23 July 2021, taking the release date of Mission: Impossible 7, then later pulled from the schedule again. In January 2021, Amazon Studios was in final talks to acquire the film for around $200 million. In April 2021, it was announced that Amazon had officially acquired the film, and released it on Amazon Prime Video on 02 July 2021.
- Originally set for theatrical release by Paramount Pictures, the film’s distribution rights were acquired by Amazon Studios due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, who digitally released it on 02 July 2021 via Amazon Prime Video.
- The film received mixed reviews from critics, with praise for the concept, action and performances but criticism aimed towards its derivative execution.
Production & Filming Details
- Chris McKay.
- Rob Cowan … executive producer.
- Leifur B. Dagfinnsson … producer: TruNorth, Iceland.
- Jules Daly … producer.
- David Ellison … producer.
- Bradley J. Fischer … executive producer.
- Dana Goldberg … producer.
- David S. Goyer … producer (as David Goyer).
- Don Granger … producer.
- Hjortur Gretarsson … line producer: Iceland.
- Adam Kolbrenner … producer.
- Samantha Nisenboim … co-producer.
- Brian Oliver … executive producer (as Bryan Oliver).
- Chris Pratt … executive producer.
- Zach Dean.
- Lorne Balfe.
- Larry Fong.
- Roger Barton.
- Garret Elkins.
- Skydance Media.
- Lit Entertainment Group.
- New Republic Pictures.
- Phantom Four Films.
- Amazon Studios (2021) (USA) (all media).
- Paramount Pictures International (2021) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through United International Pictures).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (2021) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through).
- Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2021) (Netherlands) (theatrical) (through).
- Amazon Prime Video (2021) (World-wide) (all media).
- Release Date: 02 July 2021.
- Running Time: 140 minutes.
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.