Songbird: Film Review

SONGBIRD

Given that everyone’s lives have been derailed this year by the Covid pandemic, it was only a matter of time before a movie was made about this unprecedented situation – and who would have thought we would have one already, considering we are still in said pandemic?! Director Adam Mason, producer Michael Bay, and co. certainly didn’t hang about and now Songbird is in cinemas.

This thriller is set a near dystopian future when the Covid-19 virus has mutated into Covid-23 which is more fatal – this strain is now airborne and attacks the brain tissue. There have been 110 million global deaths and only people who have yellow encoded bracelets that signify their immunity are allowed outside. Nico (KJ Apa) is in the 0.1 per cent immune population and he works as a bicycle courier around Los Angeles. The movie focuses on him trying to save his girlfriend Sara (Sofia Carson) from ending up in the Q Zone once her grandmother gets sick.

Mason co-wrote Songbird with Simon Boyes during lockdown and it began shooting in July, the first to film in Los Angeles after the pandemic caused productions to shut down. The turnaround has been quick and it shows because the screenplay hasn’t been well thought through. The movie is seriously cluttered. It seems like Mason and Boyes came up with so many ideas and did no quality control and just threw them all in. The film has so many characters and subplots and doesn’t know how to fit them together to make a cohesive story. They should have picked one or two and done them well rather than this scattershot approach. As a result of its overstuffed nature, it spreads itself too thin and so the characters are flimsy and their stories are largely unexplored.

Given how rich the setting is, I felt there was definitely a better story that could have been told. Mason and Boyes decided to focus on the love story of Nico and Sara, perhaps to give us all a little hope in the darkness, but their relationship wasn’t well written or believable so I didn’t care whether they managed to be physically together or not. Out of the selection of stories in the movie, I would have liked to know more about Demi Moore and Bradley Whitford‘s black market business and Whitford’s effed up relationship with wannabe singer May (Alexandra Daddario). I was most intrigued about them and I wish their stories were delved into more.

To give it some credit, Songbird is technically impressive and I liked how Mason and Boyes visualised how things got worse between 2020 and 2024. I appreciated their imagination and creativeness with the dystopian world-building, even small details like the decontamination postboxes, and it did have some thrilling moments, with Peter Stormare being particularly creepy as Emmett.

Some people use cinema as a way to escape from reality so will not like Songbird because it reminds them of the pandemic we’re in, but I personally found it interesting seeing our current reality being reflected in a Hollywood movie, although I never expected it to happen this fast. I get that Mason wanted to be the first to bring out a film inspired by the pandemic but he should have taken more time to do it well because Songbird feels rushed, cluttered, and forgettable.

In cinemas and digital platforms now

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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