Shadow in the Cloud

Shadow in the Cloud is an action thriller directed by Roseanne Liang from a screenplay co-written by Max (Chronicle) Landis and Liang. Shadow in the Cloud had its world premiere on September 12, 2020 at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness. The movie is now available digitally worldwide.

Before we dive into our analysis of the movie, let’s have a plot summary, taken from IMDB which will illustrate certain ancillary issues we want to address first.

A female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.

Now, most of the attention would be drawn to “female WWII pilot” and might receive a dismissive remark that there is no such thing as a female WWII pilot. That is not true though. In fact, in 1942, the U.S. Airforce trained a group of female pilots to fly military aircraft so that male pilots could be released for combat duty overseas. The group of female pilots was called the Women Airforce Service Pilots — WASP for short. More information here.

This remark betrays ignorance and a misogynist attitude, it must be said. Fact of the matter, the main character of Shadow in the Cloud – Maud Garrett (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) – is a Flight Officer, not a pilot, and describes herself in the movie as a ‘mechanic’. So the issue is actually moot.

The other problem that closed minds might have with the concept of Shadow in the Cloud may be that it is an action thriller fronted by a woman who is virtually invincible in the movie, which according to some critics, makes it silly or unrealistic. Which is true but no more sillier than any of the thousands of action thrillers starring male protagonists who are equally invincible! So why is the trope acceptable for a man but not for a woman?

Gender issues aside. The first problem we had with the movie was the fact that most of its first two acts are focused on Garrett’s perspective while she is stuck in the gun turret at the bottom of the plane. So, we spend virtually an hour watching the story unfold in that limited context. Unique perhaps but incredibly boring to watch.

Thankfully, Garrett eventually manages to get back into the main body of the place just in time for the third act, although one might quibble with the manner in which she achieves that feat. From then on, it’s full throttle action where Garrett gets to prove that she’s the man on the plane with the biggest balls (!) and by the end, Garrett gets to perform even more impossible tasks than Wonder Woman!

But we are absolutely fine with that. Shadow in the Cloud is a B-movie and that’s what B-movies deliver – visual spectacle, fantastic plots and a gorgeous lead. Yes, Moretz is all grown up now and really looks amazing in this period role. If you loved Moretz as Hit-Girl in the Kick Ass movies, then you will have a rollicking time with Shadow in the Cloud. Just turn off your mind, relax and bring the popcorn!

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