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Director: Ben Howling/Yolanda Ramke
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Cargo is the new Netflix movie starring Martin Freeman. It’s adapted from a brilliant short 7 minute YouTube film from 2013, it tells the story of a zombie apocalypse but more specifically it’s about a father who unfortunately gets bitten and has 48 hours left to find a safe place for his baby daughter. After watching the short film last year I was worried if adapting it into a feature length film would work out well. Cargo is not your typical zombie movie, you won’t find many blood, guts and zombies here. As mentioned, this is a film about a father trying to save his daughter before the virus takes him over.
Unlike most zombie movies that show the beginning of the apocalypse, Cargo takes place during the aftermath as we find out that it takes 48 hours for someone who’s been bitten to turn. Without actually showing it, they establish that the outbreak has happened for awhile and most of the land is dangerous to be on. This is where we see Martin Freeman and his wife who have taken shelter on a houseboat. Tragedy strikes and Freemans wife is bitten and turned, after a car crash Freeman gets bitten and now has 48 hours to get his daughter to a safe haven. Through his walk he comes across a number of characters, he encounters a young girl called Thoomi who is more concerned with helping her zombie father than Freeman and his daughter. Cargo is very similar to A Quiet Place, both are horror survival films that show the fear of being a parent in an apocalypse.
I loved the setting of the Australian cutback, I thought it unique place to set a zombie movie and it was done very well. The great cinematography helped to capture the huge landscapes of Australia, building upon the sense of isolation that was brought with it. Freeman feels isolated from the world as he wanders endlessly through the never ending desert. It helps to create a rich sense of atmosphere. The biggest issue I had with the movie is within it’s narrative. It struggles to stray away from familiar genre tropes, clearly shown during a scene in act 2. Although the narrative for Cargo is unique and interesting, the narrative is extremely cliche and won’t leave any twists for anyone who is used to watching zombie movies. Freeman does all the heavy lifting here as he’s the only character we truly follow from beginning to end. This isn’t a bad thing as he gives a brilliant performance in this role and in my opinion is one of his standouts from his career. I wasn’t a big fan of Simone Landers as Thoomi, I didn’t think she was that good of an actress and I understand she’s young but many young actors have given brilliant performances in the past. Personally this isn’t one of them.
Cargo worked much better as a short film than a full length one. There wasn’t enough there to go on and it shows. Most of act 2 really drags and feels like filler and if it wasn’t for Martin Freeman then I don’t think I would have liked this movie as much. His performance is truly one of his greatest. Overall, Cargo is unique enough to stand out in an overwhelming genre but not good enough to stray away from all its cliches and that is the movies biggest downfall.