Saturday 16 December 2017

Movies: Tomorrow, when the war began **


Paul Whitington

Stuart Beattie's lively action thriller hardly boasts the kind of plot guaranteed to improve international relations. Based on a series of novels by John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began imagines a sudden invasion of Australia by an Asian neighbour which, though never specified, might just be China. But things begin calmly enough, as a group of teens go on a camping break in the Outback.

Neighbours regular Caitlin Stasey is Ellie Linton, who persuades her parents to let her borrow their jeep and take to the hills with her friends. With her go Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood), Kevin (Lincoln Holmes), Homer (Deniz Akdeniz), Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin) and Lee (Chris Pang), and before night has fallen they've found a lovely site by a remote mountain lake. The girls and boys are happily paring off when they hear a roaring noise overheard, and are puzzled by the sight of squadrons of military aircraft.

When they get home, they find their parents have disappeared and the power and phone lines are cut. Ellie and her friends realise they're in the middle of a war, and, while their first instincts are to run, they decide they owe it to their family and their country to put up a fight.

For all I know, Tomorrow, When the War Began may tap into Australian fears about being invaded by Asians that might stem from the Second World War. And while the invading army in this film remain anonymous, the script stops just short of referring to them as yellow hordes. This suggestion of xenophobia aside, it's a lively action film with some good chases and fight scenes.

The only trouble with all of this is that it's pretty much a note-for-note replay of the plot of Red Dawn, the daft 1980s John Milius film. That wasn't much good either, but at least its plot was mildly original.

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