Cargo (I) (2017)
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Martin Freeman puts in arguably a career best performance in a zombie movie of all things! Telling the story of one mans quest to find a new home for his baby daughter before it's too late.
Now I'm a zombie movie lover but when it comes to "Alternative" zombie films I tend to be very disappointed in them. For example The Girl With All The Gifts (2016) and Maggie (2015) which were films I was really looking forward to but I felt let down by.
Cargo comes under the same category yet despite some glaring flaws it manages to overcome, is a truly enjoyable movie and an emotional rollercoaster of a ride.
An Australian Netflix movie it looks wonderful, goes for the realistic approach to a common (If overplayed) horror sub genre and tells a tour-de-force tale that Freeman knocks out of the park.
It has an odd number of flaws, head scratching moments and questionable pacing decisions that prevent it from truly being something special. But these things cannot take away from the fact that Cargo is a great film.
Excellent performance by Freeman
Some frustrating writing decisions
Things I Learnt From This Movie:
I'm not crying you're crying
When a movie makes me care about a kid, it's performed a miracle and deserves praise!
With a tense atmosphere, a well-written plot and breathtaking cinematography, "Cargo" is better than the average thriller in the way it focuses on its main character and creates sympathy with him to allow the viewer to actually become interested in the film's eventual outcome. The premise, featuring zombies in a post-apocalyptic Australia, is as important as the development of Martin Freeman's character, and the combination of both aspects ultimately allowed this film to turn into something surprisingly original in a genre which I thought had nothing original left anymore.
Some sloppy editing now and then might be my only criticism about the film. Freeman was a great choice for the leading actor; the film was visually gorgeous to watch; the plot was filled with interesting and unpredictable twists (even if you've seen the short film) - in short, I loved the experience I had while watching it. I don't think everybody will; "Cargo" surely is restricted by the limitations of its genre and will leave some viewers disappointed, and that's completely fine - I only hope its Netflix release will allow "Cargo" to see the wide audience it absolutely deserves.
All cast performed exceptionally well especially the Rosie twin babies Finlay and Nova Sjoberg, and newcomer young actress Simone Landers who portrayed Thoomi.
The directing by Ben Howling was great, the original concept story by novice writer/director Yolanda Ramke was awesome, but her screenwriting was a little weak with some obvious plot issues and omissions or maybe just bad editing.
Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable and refreshing take on the zombie genre and considering this was an non-Hollywood production but instead a low budget Aussie film.
A well deserved 8/10 from me.
But this is not a horror movie.
If you're looking for a horror movie, nope. All the bad reviews are from people who expected one. Fair enough.
This is not a horror movie.
This movie is about a father, a wife, and a baby trying to survive.
I cried my ass off at the end. I don't like drama movies, I don't like pishposh movies. I'm a full grown man that likes his zombies rotten and dangerous.
This, however, is not a horror movie, made me cry like a baby, and I absolutely loved it.
This movie is amazing. 10/10.
Unless you want a horror movie, which it isn't.
The cinematography is absolutely wonderfully done, and is complemented by the beautiful Australian outback. Whoever did the location scouting for this deserves more than A+. You could almost feel the heat, the thirst, the dryness. I cant describe how well the film portrays helplessness and desperation in such times as a massive epidemic, the emotions come through perfectly. I felt connected to the characters, as little as they are, and I was interested until the end of the film. I also worried it may become too slow, but even in the "slow" parts were interesting and kept me invested in the story and characters. I really was surprised how much I liked this film, it was a welcome change of pace from the typical Walking Dead rip-off junk.
Relative to most of the traditional criteria whereby movies are adjudged, CARGO would rate fairly high. The filmography is excellent, the acting is above average, the movie has a few "name brand" actors that improve the movie by their contributions, the filming locations are eye-catching, good music, and so on.
Additionally, the overall story arc isn't bad: a determined fight of a father to save his infant daughter in the face of tall odds and desperate circumstances were almost everything, including the father himself, constitutes an increasing threat.
CARGO even has the politically correct angle promulgating the notion that white males are the worst monsters of all, even more deadly than zombies, which so many people seem to find so attractive. Personally, I couldn't be more sick of it, but it must be popular with audiences since it's practically ubiquitous to every movie made nowadays. So there's that.
Where CARGO falls down, and very badly, are the individual plot elements that set the movie on its forward path. CARGO relies on the tired old tropes of characters behaving in unrealistic ways and with extreme stupidity in order to get the plot ball rolling.
The 3 primary characters, as the movie begins, are a husband and wife and their infant daughter. They are living on a houseboat-like boat traveling down a medium-size river within the overall context of a zombie postapocalypse. On the face of it, it seems like a pretty good set up. Their boat-on-a-river situation keeps them safely away from the zombies even to the point that as viewers we're not even aware that there ARE zombies until well into the movie since our protagonists are so well separated from them we don't see them.
Shortly after the movie begins, our protagonists encounter a wrecked yacht and drop anchor nearby. And then both the mother and father, in fairly rapid succession, become unaccountably stupid. First the father rows over to the wrecked yacht, apparently without informing his wife, for the purposes of scavenging for supplies. Why would anyone ever do that? He doesn't even seem to be armed. If anything happened to him there would be no one available to back him up nor would his wife even know where he was or what had happened to him or where to start looking for him. Who would ever behave in this way given this zombie apocalypse situation?
Subsequently discovering the nifty things her husband has returned with, the wife decides to go on her own little reconnaissance mission to the yacht, ALSO without informing her spouse and ALSO without any weapons. And, completely predictably, she gets chomped by a zombie, initiating the chain of events that causes the story to unfold and to create the dire circumstances the father must overcome for the course of the balance of the picture.
The first the husband/father finds out about what his wife has been doing and what has happened to her is by noticing the collection of bloody footprints left by his wife after she has returned to the houseboat; the communication between the married couple is THAT bad and they are THAT willing to expose themselves to unnecessary deadly risks. The whole emotive point of the movie is the desperate lengths to which parents will go to save their offspring when, in reality, the greatest threat to the infant in THIS movie is the astounding stupidity and incomparable incompetence of the baby's own parents.
In another scene, the husband, his badly wounded and almost certainly dying wife, and the all-important infant daughter are driving along an outback dirt road in hopes of bringing the wife to medical attention (although we already know that it is unlikely to be of any use), and the husband pays so little attention to driving the vehicle that he is "surprised" by a zombie wandering in the middle of the road and he reacts by swerving OFF the road and directly into a huge tree, thoroughly destroying the critically important vehicle and running his wife through and through with about a 6 inch diameter tree branch. After taking a good look at the complete mess he's made, he promptly passes out, giving his wife just enough time to make the zombie transition so that when he wakes up she can chomp him a good one to start the clock running down on his attempts to save the infant before he himself turns.
Who in their right mind in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, tasked with trying to save his own poor wife and infant daughter, behaves in this way? Even if the husband wasn't sure it was a zombie in the middle of the road, his priority was of course his wife and child, not some idiot in the middle of the road. Why would he risk the survival of himself and everyone he cares for for the benefit of some stranger who might be a zombie and was stupid enough to the standing in the middle-of-the-road?
These absolutely idiotic actions by the protagonists are literally the exact plot points that create the entire course of the movie. In other words, literally everything that happens in the movie is entirely founded on phenomenal stupidity and utterly unbelievable behavior.
For me, these points ruin the entire picture. Why wasn't the same skill and expertise exhibited with the mundane and technical aspects of the picture also applied to the story itself?
The landscape is a spectacular mixture of red dirt scrub smoldering with spotfires, the broad river with its cliff banks and majestic rocks and the mountains of the Flinders Ranges. As well as the slow-roaming but relentless zombies who live by the well-established rules of the genre, there are occasional whitefella survivors and a fierce resistance being waged by Aboriginal people who have returned to the bush and formed safe communities.
CARGO was written by Yolanda Ramke and directed by Ramke and Ben Howling with images supplied by master cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson (Shine, The Navigator, Fried Green Tomatoes). CARGO features an outstanding cast led by Brit, Martin Freeman, joined by Susie Porter, David Gulpilil, Natasha Wanganeen and luminous youngster, Simone Landers.
The theme of a deadly disease brings to mind the AIDS epidemic and also new threats such as antibiotic resistance and evolving viruses. The main theme however, is of race relations and respect for the ancient cultures of Australia's first people. The plot plays with reversals of our history to this point, but despite its intelligence and sincerity, always maintains the suspense of the horror genre.
CARGO releases in Australian cinemas on May 17 2018 while, in an Australian-first, the rest of the world will be able to stream CARGO from May 18 via NETFLIX. Cargo is recommended for lovers of horror and Australiana. 4 stars
Andrew Bunney Let's Go to the Pictures 9-11 AM Thursday 3D Radio, Adelaide 937FM & Digital Radio
It was amazing and it made me criy. When I saw that it had been re-made into a full length movie, I thought this is a joke gone too far. But since it was available to me for free, I decided to try it.
I regret it.
One of the best things about the original "Cargo" is that it was incredibly taut and minimalistic. There was very little dialogue, and nothing to distract from the main story of a doomed man trying to save his baby. Due to the need to fill in 105 minutes, this film version necessarily has to pad the hell out of that concept, turning a taut, tension-filled experience into a long, meandering adventure through subplots which end up in some way completely overshadowing the main plot.
"Cargo" 2013 was what it was, and gave us everything we needed. This one gives us far too much, indulging us with a pointless antagonistic plot involving a racist Australian redneck guy who keeps aboriginal people in cages as bait for zombies so he can kill them and loot their bodies, under the impression that once the zombie apocalypse is over, he will have lots of jewelry and consumer electronics and other things looted from the corpses to make himself rich. He also has a "wife" who is actually a woman he's basically kidnapped and keeping hostage because why not go full evil if you're going to add pointless filler.
This subplot keeps droning on and on, taking up so much of the film that it's hard to believe that it's all unfolding over less than 48 hours (as it's been established the zombie virus thing takes 48 hours to fully set in, and the infected have little wristband stopwatches that count down for them). Everything just keeps going on and on and the few characters there are do very little to generate any interest.
Another thing about the original "Cargo" is that, due to its short length and strict focus, with almost no dialogue, it basically lets us project ourselves onto the role of the Father. We empathize with him because of his very basic and human plight, and he does everything he can with what little he has and it's brilliant.
Here, we get to see again and again the personality of the Father character, and we get to see just how much of a complete idiot he is. From the very beginning, he's dorkily waving to a group of survivors across the river from him as though it were a sunday morning picnic and not the effing zombie apocalypse. Later when his wife is bitten, he needlessly prolongs her suffering long after she's accepted her fate, trying to reach a hospital that is out of the way of their escape route to do basically nothing other than waste time.
All throughout the film he keeps bumbling about, saying and doing stupid things, getting other people killed, and needlessly wasting time.
By the time we get to the famous moment from the short film where the Father makes a "raw meat on a stick" contraption to lure his zombie self into perpetually moving forward, he's already got another human companion with him he can hand his baby off to, AND he's barely 100 feet away from another group of survivors. There's entirely no reason for his bait contraption, all it serves is to waste time.
Ultimately, that's what the vast majority of this film does; waste time. And it does so to such a degree that any and all of the visceral, emotional intensity of the original film, is entirely evaporated to the point that the short film's iconic image of a zombified man with a baby strapped to his back and a wooden pole with meat on the end, is not a moment of necessity and human ingenuity in a moment of self sacrifice, but a pointless sight gag that serves only to remind you of the far superior short film.
My suggestion with this film, would be to give it a wide birth. Unless you want a large spoonful of social justice, and a dash of guilt thrown in. It's a garbage movie, and you can spend 104 minutes watching paint dry or something more interesting!
I always look for something unique, and a little different in such a highly regarded film, sadly I couldn't see anything, it's watchable, but I found it too slow.
Martin Freeman is terrific, and the best thing about it. It's a decent watch, but there are many better films in this genre. 6/10
I would definitely say make some time to see this one it's a great film.
Land down under as a beautiful backdrop, subdued , shamanic and tempered acting yet the movie still manages to warm our hearts and allows us to sympathize a bit with the anti hero as it shows just how it is, the ugly side of humans when it comes to survival.
Martin Freeman in many of his roles has a natural comic side to HIM. Here he managed to deliver what is required of a father who will do anything for family. Determined but not over the top.