The information that not one however a number of Covid-19 vaccines are on the way in which to pharmacies and hospitals worldwide got here as a aid to us all, a affirmation that some semblance of normality would return within the subsequent 12 months or so. However for the makers of Songbird, an audaciously assembled pandemic thriller that imagines a not-too-distant actuality the place Covid-23 has killed greater than 100 million individuals, it dumps a truckload of mud on the movie’s fearful “what if” worst case situation, edging it even nearer to science fiction. For many people, the current excellent news may make it extra palatable to look at one thing meant to squeeze stress out of a state of affairs that’s already fairly tense sufficient. There’s a distance now, at the very least for many who are fortunate sufficient to be wholesome and secure, that permits us to see it for what it’s slightly than what it’d present us concerning the future.
It was spawned from an concept in March that acquired the inexperienced gentle in Could earlier than a shoot in July and now a digital launch in December, a spectacular turnaround helped tremendously, little question, by the blockbuster producer and deft string-puller Michael Bay. The British director and co-writer Adam Mason, whose earlier credit have been small-scale style films, has crafted a slightly ingeniously constructed movie that tries to inform an enormous story with little useful resource, utilizing a locked-down LA as a backdrop. It’s remarkably slick, if just a little rote in its plotting, working greatest as an enchanting historic doc of how some creatives discovered their manner across the guidelines throughout an not possible time for a struggling trade. It’s the primary main Hollywood film to have been created not solely throughout the pandemic but in addition concerning the pandemic, a indisputable fact that lifts a superbly stable thriller into one thing of notice, one thing to be studied in years to come back.
It’s 2024 and within the Songbird model of occasions, issues haven’t acquired any higher; they’ve been getting progressively worse (“It’s the top of the world, bro,” somebody tells us in one of many many dour clips shared within the opening montage). The most recent virus is the deadliest but, with a 56% mortality fee. That has led to a strict divide between those that have immunity (which carries a much-sought after yellow bracelet) and people who don’t (compelled to remain indoors always). In case you fail the every day “temp take a look at” otherwise you’re near somebody who does then you definitely’re forcibly relocated to a Q-Zone, basically a focus camp the place you’re left to die. Nico (Riverdale’s KJ Apa) is likely one of the fortunate ones, a “munie” allowed to maneuver freely throughout the desolate metropolis, delivering packages and slowly saving for an escape to Huge Sur, the place issues are one way or the other magically secure. He’s hoping to take his girlfriend, Sara (the Disney channel alum Sofia Carson), however she’s trapped in her condominium with household, a precarious predicament that shortly turns harmful when her grandmother falls unwell …
Within the temporary runtime that follows (the movie is correctly simply 84 minutes lengthy), Mason and his co-writer Simon Boyes try to meld collectively a Romeo & Juliet-lite love story with a sub-Contagion thriller which bravely expands out to an ensemble piece with Demi Moore and Bradley Whitford as a wealthy, insulated couple promoting immunity bracelets, Alexandra D’Addario as a cover-singing YouTuber, Craig Robinson as Apa’s wheeler-dealer boss, Richard Jewell’s Paul Walter Hauser as a disabled veteran and Peter Stormare, in laughably pantomime villain mode because the nefarious head of sanitation.
Regardless of the various acquainted substances of Songbird (a few of which begin to really feel musty by the convoluted final act), there’s an plain jolt in seeing a shiny thriller rooted in a model of the grim actuality we’ve all been dealing with this 12 months. Taking parts we’ve come to know so properly (from the viral terminology we spout every day to the remoted manner we now stay) and utilizing them to create a fair scarier world is, at instances, mightily efficient, if additionally just a little bit exploitative to some. The scenes that work greatest are those that really feel much less fantastical – a intercourse scene involving added safety, a spouse forcing her husband to burn his garments after he returns to the home, the horror of waking up with a fever – but it surely’s maybe the schlockier ones that act because the sugar sweetening the bitter style these may depart. It’s not a movie with a lot depth to it however when it does take care of the thornier hows and whys, it’s curiously cynical, reflective of residing and dealing in a rustic the place issues have been mishandled fairly spectacularly.
Somewhat like The Purge, it units up an intriguing world of prospects however retains the main focus frustratingly tight – an unavoidable choice on this occasion, but it surely does make us crave the larger image. Apa and Carson’s love story is a slightly milquetoast hinge for the plot that doesn’t actually carry us by means of emotionally, though there may be an added weight to the ability of their large kiss on the finish (each for the characters and for them as actors).
Songbird is an acceptably watchable thriller that’s extra notable for what it achieves technically than the rest. For a lot of, the topical gimmick will show irresistible however for others, it is going to be repellent, making the choice to keep away from an costly, anti-escapist rental all too straightforward. Both manner, it’s headed to the historical past books.