Wolverine… errr I mean Wirrawee! When I first heard of this movie I feared that this was going to be a remake of 1984 Patrick Swayze’s Red Dawn. In that film, you basically throw together various actors from John Hughes movies and make them re-enact an episode of the A-Team. In Tomorrow, it follows 8 Australian teens as their rural country side is invaded, families are taken, and they fight back guerrilla style. The synopsis really sounds like Red Dawn. Fortunately there is no group urination into a car radiator or any other nonsense from the 80s.
Based on an Australian series of young-adult novels, Tomorrow is the first book of this bestselling series. It’s told from the point of view of brilliantly acted Ellie (Caitlin Stasey). It’s probably due to the strength of the source material, but the plot and character development were stellar. The viewer will really sense the struggle as they go from flirty carefree teenagers on a camping trip, to helpless viewers as their town is locked down, to unwilling freedom fighters.
The author, John Marsden takes great care in his novels to not name invaders ethnicity. That’s fine for a book but you can’t show a generic soldier. Probably in consideration Australia’s geopolitical arena, producers choose Asia as the origin of the invading force. It doesn’t take much imagination to know the bad guys are from China. Unlike the Russians in Red Dawn, the Chinese don’t really seem like a natural fit for an invading army. However, that’s a debate that will run longer than this article. So moving on… To their credit, the film doesn’t dwell on the invaders origins but they focus on people and the country being invaded.
The cinematography is gorgeous. Many will never have any idea that any part of Australia looked like this. It was lush, tropical but at with huge mountain bluffs adorning the landscape. The film’s pace was steady and the direction capable. Despite some teen/Australian stereotyping in the beginning the acting overall wasn’t bad at all.
There’s action, but this film is not about fighting or the invading forces. There isn’t even an evil General/Leader to focus any hateful emotion on. The invasion simply serves as an external force upon the teens. This is a drama about how those teens react, grow and struggle against the context of war.