Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Tomorrow Job

It is not the Butterfly Effect that kills you. It is the paradoxes that melt your mind. Such are the perils of time travel braved by Lee Warner’s band of thieves. A shadowy time travel syndicate is making time travel larceny even more dangerous for them, but they inevitably accept one last assignment in director-screenwriter Bruce Wemple’s The Tomorrow Job, which opens tomorrow in theaters and releases Tuesday on VOD.

Instead of Rod Taylor’s elegant throne, these time travelers merely take a pill that allows their minds to perceive one day into the future or past, for an hour in duration. Before and after such a trip, Warner’s crew takes great pains to perceive as little as possible, to minimize the chance of noticing potential paradoxes. Usually, they like to be blindfolded in an unmarked van.

Once they “return” from a job, they have to marry-up their actions over the next 24-hours, to avoid paradoxes. Schrodinger’s Cat is always very much top of mind for them. Frankly, it does not really make much sense for them to be committing heists in the future, but they do and Wemple’s fast-talking dialogue keeps viewers from asking questions in the moment. Warner has also used the technology to place big bets, which makes more sense.

For the general population the risk of paradoxes is relatively low. Warner was one of the few survivors of Dr. Jay Tupple’s time travel experiments—and he stole the corner-cutting scientist’s remaining stock of pills when he bailed on the study. The only other supply is in the hands of his fellow guinea pig-turned rival, Derrick Wagner. The rogue enforcer is determined to get his hands on Warner’s stash, which would be bad, because Wagner is much less concerned about the ethics of time-travel. That is saying something, because Warner is pretty dodgy. Unfortunately, Wagner has the backing of a shadowy Cabal led by “The Organizer” and he is willing to sacrifice the sanity of his henchmen to get the job done.

Or something like that. Figuring out how everything works in
Tomorrow Job is more than a little tricky, but it somehow feels like it is being consistent, even when you’re confused by it all. At least everyone is trying to adhere to an internal system of logical, which imposes an intriguing set of constraints on the characters. However, the business with the Big Brother-like Organizer just doesn’t land right. His scenes come across as cheesy rather than ominous. In retrospect, Wagner probably should have simply been his own freelance master.

Still, there is something about the film’s low-key visuals and vibe that weirdly works for it. The cast, many of whom have worked previously with Wemple, also have a “Regular Joe” look that lends the film credibility. Crooks and grifters like Warner have to blend in, rather than stand-out, even if they are popping time travel pills.

Ariella Mastroianni is the exception. She definitely stands out (in the right way) as the card-counting, lock-picking Sophia Romero, who replaced Martin, a member of Warner’s crew who was killed on a job, until he wasn’t. Again, that was Wagner’s work, for complicated reasons.

Indeed, it is definitely “complicated” when it comes to
Tomorrow Job, but a lot of it works—somehow. This is sort of film that could spawn a cult following, all of whom will boo the Organizer during his appearances (for both the right and wrong reasons). Recommended for its oddness, The Tomorrow Job opens tomorrow (1/13) at the Laemmle Glendale and it releases on VOD 1/17.