Chloë Grace Moretz is strong willed Women’s Auxiliary Air Force officer Maude Garrett. The only female presence on a massive B-17 Flying Fortress military plane, her mission is to protect, at all costs, a precious piece of cargo but the chauvinistic attitude of the male crew makes the job next to impossible. Stuck in a turret in the belly of the plane, Garrett has an almost unobstructed, 360° view of their airspace. When she reports a “shadow in the clouds,” a possible enemy attack, she is ignored. When airborne gremlins (you read that right) attack, she is blamed. “Whatever is in that package,” the men say, “is what’s causing the failures on this plane.”
Cue the first of the movie’s outrageous twists.
The first half of “Shadow in the Cloud” is a showcase for Moretz. For much of the film’s running time it’s a one person show, with the “Kick Ass” star strapped into a gunner’s turret, spewing hardboiled dialogue. She’s energetic, holding the screen with sheer force of personality. Garrett even finds room in the generic 1940s style cliched dialogue to convincingly poke through the veneer of chauvinism from her plane mates.
The second half is frenetic, with airborne action and Gremlins! Gremlins! Gremlins! The movie becomes less character driven and more a vehicle for director Roseanne Liang’s prowess with a camera.
Each half has its strengths, but they are bound together by twists that would make even M. Night Shyamalan shake his head. There are logic holes big enough for a B-17 Flying Fortress to soar through which would be OK if the twists didn’t feel tacked on for the sake of shaking things up.
At just 83-minutes offers up two movies and while there are moments of interest in the busy second half, the film is strongest when Moretz is on screen alone, before the film’s twists tie it into a Gordian knot.