2 out of 5 stars
With the ongoing worldwide pandemic, it is not unrealistic to think that screenplays will eventually incorporate COVID into their storyline. The question is to determine how soon it is too soon for this aspect of real-life to be included in the mix for film productions. Like any disaster with global implications, it is difficult to know when the best time to cross that line. If anyone tested these limits, Michael Bay would be a candidate. As the producer of Songbird, they are proving to be the canary in the coal mine for the industry.
In the not too distant future, COVID-19 virus has mutated into COVID-23. This has led the world to experience a hard lockdown involving daily temperature checks and establishing Q-zones or concentration camps. This leads to most of the population experiencing different types of imprisonment, except for those immune to the virus. These fortunate individuals are allowed to roam free and capitalise on the captivity of the majority of the population. Nico Price (KJ Apa) is one of the lucky ones and works as a bicycle courier for the wealthy who rely on him to connect with the outside world.
Despite his freedoms, his true love is confined to her flat with her grandmother. The delivery man does all he can to remain connected with Sara (Sofia Carson). They talk every day over their mobile phones and do all they can to maintain their relationship until her grandmother contracts the virus. Her daily temperature reading sends an alert to the ‘sanitation department’ that will come to collect the women to take them to the Q-zone. This puts Nico up against the clock to work to find a way of saving his girlfriend. A race to keep her from being sent behind the walls of these government fortresses. With the help of the owner of the Lester Gets It couriers and some of his delivery clients, it becomes a race against time to reunite and free the young couple.
During the gangland battles of the 20s and 30s, audiences did tire of films that portrayed the realities of city life. Then to travel forward to the new century, it is still a tenuous consideration to film anything related to the events around 911. Which would probably serve as a warning that the current COVID outbreak might be a problematic premise to sell to the general population. Even though it is compelling to consider where the world might be in the next few years, it might need to be said that this one was too soon to introduce.
All that to be said, if studios want to test the waters to see if people are ready to be entertained by this pandemic, at least make it a decent production. With Michael Bay in the producer’s chair, they were able to pull together a talented cast and the visual effects have all of the earmarks of the infamous director. Yet, even with beautiful people in difficult situations, a perfectly slimy villain and the freedom to ride unencumbered on a motorbike, there is nothing that can save this disjointed dystopian romance. The setup starts off strong enough, but the wheels fall off the story’s premise quickly and the film never truly recovers. Viewers are expected to make giant leaps of believability and logic for this to truly connect the characters or the underlying premise. Beyond pushing the boundaries of pandemic exploitation, the overall experience fails to provide the antidote to this poorly executed script.
REEL DIALOGUE: This world seems to be sick on so many levels
The world is sick and broken. This is not a statement advocating for climate change, but an acknowledgment that this world is dying. Watching Songbird does cut close to the bone with the inclusion of the coronavirus. Still, there is more to be said about the health of humanity. The film is based in the not too distant future, yet it addresses issues that have plagued mankind since the beginning of time. More than physical health, we need to consider that the ‘heart’ of all men and women suffers from depravity.
A big question that has to be asked in light of this film is what is God doing about this mess and is there any hope for this broken world? It is a monumental question that can be answered in the person of Jesus. Not that it is a simple answer, but not until you look into his life and death will the answer be evident. Pick up one of the accounts of his life and see how God answers this multi-layered query with one man.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Available on iTunes and Prime Video