Swan Song Review: What Sounds Like An Emotionally Fascinating Concept Falls Flat

Two time Academy Award Winner Mahershala Ali finally stars in his first lead role in the sci-fi drama Swan Song. What sounds like an emotionally resonating concept falls flat due to it not taking risks. Read more in our review:
Swan Song

Two-time Academy Award Winner, Mahershala Ali, finally stars in his first lead role in the sci-fi drama Swan Song. What sounds like an emotionally resonating concept falls flat due to it not taking risks.

Apple’s last sci-fi drama Finch, starring Tom Hanks has just been released and now the streamer is back with another one, Swan Song. While both films deal with the theme of death, they do it in very different future scenarios: one in a dry, from the climate change, destroyed apocalypse and the latter in a clean hypermodern future. But they have one thing in common, for a theme this emotionally resonating and two very distinct, yet interesting worlds, both films are incredibly dull.

Read more in our Swan Song review below:

Swan Song

Set in the near future, Swan Song is a powerful, emotional journey told through the eyes of Cameron (Mahershala Ali), a loving husband and father diagnosed with a terminal illness who is presented with an alternative solution by his doctor (Glenn Close) to shield his family from grief. As Cam grapples with whether or not to alter his family’s fate, he learns more about life and love than he ever imagined. Swan Song explores how far we will go, and how much we’re willing to sacrifice, to make a happier life for the people we love. (Apple TV+)

It’s safe to say that the two-time Academy Award Winner has yet again delivered a staggering performance, and also happened to be nominated for a Golden Globe a few days ago. This time it’s also a double performance as he plays the main character, Cameron, and his clone, Jack.

RELATED: Finch Movie Review: Tom Hanks Bonds With A Robot And dog In Heartfelt Post-Apocalyptic Road trip

The rest of the cast including the likes of Naomie Harris, Glenn Close and Awkwafina, who returns to a more dramatic role after her Golden Globe Win for the superb dramedy The Farewell, also delivered good performances, with the little that they have been given. Another highlight is the way it explores its futuristic world, with some fun and creative use of VFX.

That brings us to the screenplay that thinks it’s way cleverer than it actually is. Due to the film’s slow narrative progression, it tricks you into thinking that it is actually pretty deep when in reality the pacing is just horrible. We get the entire setup of the characters and the conflicts in the first thirty minutes.

Swan Song Mahershala Ali

After that everyone will know what will happen and still the film decides to spend an entire hour trying to build up a conflict that has already happened and doesn’t find any meaningful way to explore it. Not even a great Mahershala Ali can save that. Then you get a rushed and predictable finale that could have easily happened 30 minutes earlier, which also fails to put any meaning into the film.

While Swan Song finds some fun ways to show the futuristic world it takes place in, it fails to explore it core themes and left me bored and uninterested. A great Mahershala Ali and a star-crowded supporting cast also couldn’t save it.


Swan Song is available on Apple TV+.

The film is written and directed by Benjamin Cleary and stars: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Glenn Close, Adam Beach and Awkwafina.

What do you guys think of Swan Song? Are you planning to watch it? Have you seen it already? If so how did you like it? Let’s discuss everything in the comments down below and on our Twitter.



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Finn Schlote

Finn thinks and talks about movies all day, has a strong interest in how movies are made and he loves great cinematography. Comedy or horror, arthouse or big-budget blockbuster, Finn watches everything. He is a passionate Blu-Ray collector and is still waiting for a Jumper (2008) sequel.