GM Made Chris Pratt’s ‘The Tomorrow War’ An Ultium Ad, Did The Product Placement Backfire?
The Tomorrow War is a 2021 SciFi time travel movie. The film features sequences set in both 2017 and 2051, with Dan Forester (Chris Pratt) traveling between the two timelines. Both timelines of The Tomorrow War feature General Motors’ Ultium drivetrain vehicles as hero cars. But did General Motor‘s product placement in the apocalyptic SciFi backfire?
Chris Pratt drives a 2017 Chevy Bolt EV during The Tomorrow War
When the film opens, Forester is a veteran and high school science teacher. He drives a Chevy Volt. Several shots prominently display the car and its badge. Forester is a self-admitted science nerd, and owning an early EV is a fitting expression of this character trait.
Forester and his family are hosting a World Cup watching party. During the game, time travelers from the year 2051 emerged onto the field. They announce to the world that alien invaders have arrived in the future. These aliens have nearly wiped out the human race. But the people from the future have developed time travel technology and implore the humans of 2017 to join the ‘Tomorrow War.’
Forester promises his family that he will not leave to fight the future war. But eventually, he is drafted. After some soul-searching, he decides to travel to the future.
Chris Pratt also drive an Hummer EV in The Tomorrow War
[Spoiler Alert] When Forester arrives in 2051, the war is not going well. He and his comrades fight through Miami Beach. An onslaught of predatory aliens wipe out most of their platoon, and are overrunning the city.
Forester and his team call in reinforcements. Suddenly, a convoy of military-spec Hummer EVs roll through the apocalyptic city. They look like current military Humvees, but they glide along on electric chassis. Then, while Forester watches, a pack of huge aliens ambush the hummers, tipping them over and killing the drivers.
The team of soldiers from 2017 are eventually rescued. The 2051 soldiers fighting the war have an entire fleet of military-spec Hummer EVs. Forester tries to use several of them in his fight against the aliens. Eventually, he flees the creatures aboard an open-top Hummer, driving along the beach.
GM’s product placement may have backfired
In 2017, Dan Forester may be teaching science and driving a futuristic car, but he is not happy with his life. He yearns for a job as a research scientist, but is passed over whenever he applies. He feels he is meant to discover something great, but is not sure what.
Forester’s Chevy Bolt appears comically small for Chris Pratt. In the opening scene he tries to get out of the car, while on the phone, and carrying groceries. The simple task seems comical because of the Chevy Bolt.
Later, Forester visits his dad, a veteran who drives a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and a 1967 Ford Mustang. Forester Senior (J.K. Simmons) laughs at the Chevy Bolt EV. He calls the car a “wind-up toy.” Dan Forester cannot think of a comeback.
[Spoiler Alert] The 2051 sequences in The Tomorrow War are dark and apocalyptic. The survivors of the invasion are barely clinging to life. What little technology they have seems no match against the alien horde. The military-spec Hummer EVs seem outclassed at every turn by the bodies of the huge aliens. These vehicles do not appear capable or powerful in the film.
The Ultium platform suffered a setback
The GM marketing team could not have predicted the perfect storm that would make their Tomorrow War product placement backfire. The 2018 scenes, shot long before the Covid Pandemic, show a depressed and empty, near-future world in which many people have disappeared into the tomorrow war. Forester feels like giving up and expresses an opinion that science has lost. Critics called this first act prophetic.
[Spoiler alert] When Forester returns from 2051, and makes ammends with his family, it is not his Chevy Bolt that symbolizes the lessons he’s learned. He says he realizes his best possible future was in front of him all along. Then he embraces his family in front of his fathers 1967 Mustang.
Furthermore, General Motors’ Chevy Bolt fires and recall may signal a larger Ultium Drivetrain issue. For publicity reasons, marketing all GM EVs on the coattails of the Chevy Bolt seems like a worse idea every year. But when The Tomorrow War began filming, you would have needed time travel technology to foresee Ultium and earth’s surprising future.