I’d rather eat wet take-out food than see this pandemic bomb again.
“Songbird” is a cynical and depressing vision about COVID-19 lasting for years. The story takes place in Los Angeles, 4 years from now, when social distancing is so mandatory, that the military storms areas. If you’re immune to the virus, you get yellow wrist bands, which keep you out of trouble. But if you are affected by the virus, you end up in concentration camps known as “Q-Zones.” Unlike certain teenagers buying tickets to R-rated movies without I.D.s, the main protagonist Nico (KJ Apa) never leaves home without with wristband.
The trailer for this movie was already criticized for its bad timing, given the circumstances, and for giving it a lame “Romeo & Juliet”-type story. We’re getting a vaccine soon, according to the news, but that doesn’t mean we should stop washing our hands.
Michael Bay is a producer on this with his Platinum Dunes production company, while Adam Mason makes his directorial debut. The second filmmaker is a newbie, but with Bay endorsing the picture, it’s no wonder why the story is pointless, why the characters are badly developed, and why the actors are wasted.
The story involves Nico, a courier, dating the lovely Sara (Sofia Carson), who lives with her grandmother and only living relative. They date, via social distancing, for the record, and they both dream of nothing more than getting out of LA, and kissing each other in person. Her grandmother falls ill, and the military is on the brink of capturing them. So, Nico must get them the wristbands that could save them.
The villains in this movie are impossible to even comprehend. They consist of the corrupt head of the sanitation department (Peter Stormare) and an unfaithful black market dealer (Bradley Whitford). “Unfaithful,” because he’s cheating on his wife (Demi Moore) with a young singer (Alexandra Daddario), who has a better connection with a former soldier-turned paraplegic (Paul Walter Hauser). And the head just makes small talk with Nico about how him smoking is one of the things, besides COVID, that could kill him.
He needs help from his boss (Craig Robinson) to find the connections to the wristbands, while dealing with the dealer’s wife, who has to protect her sick little girl (Lia McHugh from “The Lodge”).
Are you following any of this? If you aren’t, it’s not your fault. It’s entirely on the filmmakers, who decided that since “A Quiet Place” (produced by Bay) was a success with critics and audience, then that means they could jump to conclusions with “Songbird.” It all moves so fast, that you can’t understand the supporting characters’ ambitions, and have to rely on one-liners and situations. After all, it was produced by Bay.
The UV sterilizers the citizens use in the movie look cool, because they look like if refrigerators were meant to work like mailboxes. And I like how Carson kind of looks like Lily Collins with her eyebrows and ponytail. But both these elements are minor, while the rest never goes anywhere and never delivers.
Looking at Stormare as the bad guy, and he is a great actor (see him in “Fargo”), I felt somehow he was miscast as the villain, as if the filmmakers were searching for actors at random. And Moore (another icon to appreciate) gives one of the worst performances of her career, because of how she acts like she’s sick and doesn’t want to be in this movie.
I don’t think anybody wanted to be in “Songbird,” and according to what I’ve seen, I don’t blame them. Wear a mask people!
In Theaters and On Demand Tomorrow