These days, calling something a B-Movie is almost like saying it gets a pass for being a poor film, and while I don’t believe that, there are moments in the film SHADOW IN THE CLOUD (2020) that the filmmakers clearly wanted you to turn your brain off for. I’ve been a fan of Chloe Grace Moretz as an actress for many years. From her fun roles like Hit-Girl in KICK-ASS (2010) or her incredibly committed dramatic performance in HUGO (2011), she showed that her range was capable of going much further. Not knowing anything about this movie, I banked on the lead actress and the premise being fun enough, but I think I got much more than I bargained for. Here’s why this film was both great and terrible all at once.
After sneaking on board a plane for mysterious reasons, Maude Garrett (Chloe Grace Moretz) will stop at nothing to protect her classified cargo. Taking place in a single area of the plane for the entirety of the first and second acts, SHADOW IN THE CLOUD held my attention very much. Where this film began to lose me was in the very, very over-the-top crew members she had to speak to throughout the film. The level of obnoxiousness was far too much for a movie like this and then the final act hit and it honestly became a completely different movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film switch gears as hard as this one did.
Having just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, I’m trying to wrap my head around how they’re even going to market this film to the average moviegoer. For the most part, it takes place in a single location, and when it leaves that location to become a completely different movie, it sort of ruins the shock value of the final act to actually include that stuff in a trailer. Having no idea what this movie was before going in, I must say that I went through numerous emotions throughout. From being invested in the drama in the first act to raising an eyebrow for where it’s about to go, to being completely taken out of the movie by the ridiculously over-the-top finale, it’s going to be very hard to recommend this one to anyone.
Chloe Grace Moretz gives a damn good performance here, having about 95% of the movie to herself. By the third act, this movie just straight-up becomes a cartoon and I just thought to myself that she is far too good for a movie like this. Maybe the filmmakers knew exactly what movie they were making and knew that they wanted to create some schlock to close out the movie, but SHADOW IN THE CLOUD in turn just feels like a bunch of random ideas smashed into one film. I’m truly not sure who the audience for this film will be.
In the end, it’s very clear that writer/director Roseanne Liang set out to make some obvious messages throughout the movie, which is what I feel the whole film was going for, but I thought it was way too heavy-handed, especially for the popcorn movie it becomes by the end. The best thing I can say about this film is that the central performance is great and the film is never boring, as it’s 83-minute run time does fly by. The problem is that this movie evolves into something that’s just too much for itself to handle. I got a huge kick out of certain elements, which is enough for me to give the film a passing grade overall, but it’s not a great movie by any means. There are things to have fun with, but the over-the-top nature is simply overdone.