Cinematic Releases: Cargo (2019) - Reviewed

How far would you go to provide for your family? This is the question posed in the film Cargo. Written and directed by Kareem Mortimer, Cargo focuses on Kevin, an American fisherman who appears to have been living in The Bahamas for quite some time now. We see that he's struggling to pay the bills while also dealing with a troubling gambling addiction. Early on in the film, we learn the meaning of the film's title as we see our protagonist Kevin, in a desperate need for money, get involved in smuggling Haitians to the United States. What follows is a decent into darkness as we watch Kevin slowly lose his soul to the world he's trapped himself within.

What's notable from the beginning is the setting of this film. Cargo offers a view of The Bahamas not normally seen. This isn't a romanticized Bond film that showcases it as merely a tropical paradise. Cargo gets down to the gritty reality focusing on real people struggling with real problems. In all actuality, it took me a while to even realize that this film was taking place in The Bahamas. In some aspects, this works, in others, it doesn't. I feel like it works for the film in that it's really trying to put a focus on the characters and their struggles, and almost how these problems can happen anywhere, so location doesn't really matter. On the other hand, it gives the film some rather flat, bland cinematography, which doesn't help in trying to make it stick out as a memorable cinematic experience. A film can focus on the drab ugliness of the world and still have a rich distinct visual style. Look at David Fincher's Se7en as a perfect example.

Cargo can be frustrating because there's such a blend of good and bad throughout the film. The majority of acting is clearly amateurish, which is never helpful. Warren Brown, who plays Kevin, does a decent job, but it feels like a bit of a stretch for playing the lead. You can tell that he's really trying, but unfortunately, some actors just shouldn't be the stars of a film, as terrible as that sounds. The supporting cast is kind of hit and miss on good and bad acting. Gessica Geneus, gives arguably the best performance in the film. She plays, Celianne, a young Haitian woman who Kevin begins an affair with, and unsurprisingly, the scenes featuring her character are the best in the film.

This leads to my next point, being the film's pacing. Cargo has these great moments where the plot really kicks in and gets us emotionally invested in the characters, yet is also ripe with plenty of filler scenes that only seem to bog down the story. I can't help but wonder if some of this was added just to add to the runtime and make the film feel like it has some weight, when it really doesn't need it. Cargo really hits its stride in the third act, where Kevin finally comes to grips with the consequences of his actions, and the effect that he's had on those around him, both good and bad. This is where the film comes full circle and delivers on some plot points it set up earlier on. Cargo feels like a mixed bag, but ultimately, it's worth checking out, at the very least for it's satisfying conclusion.

-Derek Miranda