Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) is not living his best life when, to the world’s shock, soldiers from the future arrive with a dire message. In thirty years, humankind will be on the verge of losing a war against alien invaders. Their only hope is for people from now to travel forward and help the fight.
The first mistake this movie makes, I feel, is spending a bit too long setting up Dan’s ‘sad’ life – where a great home, loving wife, and cute daughter don’t seem to count for much – and how unfulfilled he is, and yet how long he spends avoiding the obvious. None of which actually adds to the movie, apart from setting up a few plot bunnies that hop off into nowhere much. Of course, the promotional material has already referred to him as a ‘normal man’ who has to try to save the future. Normal. Buffed up Pratt. Whose character is ex-military and a scientist and overall *dripping* with specialist skills. Normal my… ahem, yeah.
Anyway, such is the generic template for all such movies, I suppose, and starting with that then I have to suggest this is a cookie-cutter exercise snipping bits from a dozen other places. I was reminded, amongst several other things, of Starship Troopers, Aliens, World War Z, and Edge of Tomorrow – heck, I’ve even done double takes at the poster, so Tom Cruise-y does Pratt look.
Now, I’m not wholly averse to ‘the worst Chris’, and he’s usually good at doing the action with humour thing. Except here, where there’s no humour (bar one hideously out of place line, that shows up in the trailers). He is just so bland, but then, the only things that really stand out about the movie are the irritatingly illogical bits.
For example, really what is the point in scooping up civilians, not training them, and firing them into the future? Can we say cannon fodder – but, without much of a point? The team arrive – a scene that looks ‘so good’ they put it in twice, but hello, I’ve played this computer game already – and rather than the time jumping veteran in the party, Forester is instantly put in charge… and everyone goes along with it. They’re sent to do a mission that somehow everyone manages despite being not trained, but I do have to wonder: if it was all that important, why them and not the pros who are about but only come for the extraction?
I could go on. Some of the bits that bugged me early on get some kind of explanation as we progress, but as with most time travel things, there are gaping issues. Then there’s just pointless stuff – like, what’s not showing pictures of the aliens actually achieving, really? Oh, audience surprise, perhaps? Urgh. Then there are a few ‘surprise!’ plot twist things that I’d guessed almost from the world go, but ho-hum.
It’s also overlong, which would be more forgivable if (a) it didn’t spend so much time setting up stuff that ends up not mattering (I sooo guessed at a twist, signposted to heck, that didn’t happen), and (b) didn’t tag on half an hour from a different movie as an ending. And I won’t even complain too much about the latter, as it’s one of the stronger things about it all.
Despite all this – and sounds very unbelievable to now say – it’s not actually all bad. If you’re willing to leave your brain to one side, this is actually the kind of big dumb sci-fi action blockbuster that I have been missing so much due to pandemics. And it looks good, mostly (some of the alien stuff – hmm), and definitely aims at ‘epic’. I wasn’t bored watching it – damned with faint praise, eh? – and would even offer a tentative recommendation, on the understanding that this is in no way whatsoever a ‘good’ movie. But it was kind of entertaining, both watching and in tearing it apart afterwards.
Released: 2nd July 2021
Viewed: 2nd July 2021
Running time: 140 minutes
My rating: 6/10 – I’m being generous as I’ve so missed blockbuster movies, and this is really trying!