“Shadow in the Cloud” is the kind of girl-power action adventure in which women can’t just do anything, they do everything — including fighting sexist boors, enemy fire and a gremlin all at once from the underside of a bomber during World War II.
At the center of this spectacle is Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz), a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force officer who joins the bomber’s all-male crew in Auckland, New Zealand, to transport a classified package. By the time we learn what’s inside the package, which dangles precariously from Maude’s arm during her midair stunts, it’s clear that our heroine is defying not just death but also logic.
But sillier feats have been performed onscreen (usually by dudes), and it helps that Roseanne Liang’s horror-action hybrid leans confidently into its schlockiness. The colors are grungy, the score synth-heavy and the characters goofy — particularly the men on the flight, who are both annoyed and sexually excited by Maude’s sudden appearance and immediately banish her to the plane’s ball turret.
It’s a clever story turn that strips a large chunk of the movie down to Moretz’s charismatic face and the voices of the other actors, who hammily play up their lewd banter over the intercom. Then the C.G.I. gremlin shows up, forcing Maude (and Liang) to maneuver impressively within the cramped space.
The twists come rapidly in the movie’s first half; in the second, the narrative dissolves into a zigzag of flying bodies and explosions that bend the laws of space-time. But the implausibility of it all is a perk: There’s never a moment in this rollicking film when you can tell what’s coming next.
Shadow in the Cloud
Rated R for scary monsters, foulmouthed men and gory sights. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.