Rating (3 out of 5)
The reason I started writing these reviews and asked my family to participate is exactly because of the reviews by critics that this received such a high Rotten Tomato score. I had trusted that Rotten Tomatoes being an average of different critics would be a decent metric. However, constantly I found critics overvaluing movies. The best example, was Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This was an awful movie and the only thing that worked for it is it was a Star Wars movie. Yet it received a 91%.
Cargo received an 84%. I skimmed through the other reviews, and the critics wanted to like this movie. It seemed as though some were impacted by the fact that Martin Freeman was acting in the film. Whatever there reason is they are wrong.
I am not saying this is a bad movie, unlike my father. I would subtract 1 for him and my mom, just because it is a Zombie film. So let me actually review the movie now.
Cargo starts out with a couple on a house boat with their daughter. They are running low on food and they seem to have a plan to get to a particular place on the map. Floating in the river are red canisters. The canisters are packages from the government, and include a pamphlet on symptoms, a device to kill yourself, and a timer.
Apparently, once bitten you have 48 hours. Now unlike Night of the Living Deb, this is spread by biting. Now the zombies aren’t very quick, and need to hibernate, either in a dark cavern or tunnel, or bury their head in the sand.
This movie isn’t original or thoughtful in how it approaches people. It still perceives people as self-serving or stupid. Case in point, this is a disease which has no known cure, and after 48 hours, you will try and bite your loved ones. Spoiler (not really it is per the Hollywood standard Zombie outline), his wife is bitten. He refuses to killer with the death pen provided by the government. Even when she has seizures (first stage of symptoms as indicated on the card in the government Zombie kit), he continues on with her.
My wife and I have agreed, we would have left each other by the side of the road. Not because we don’t care for each other, but because we care for each other and our family. They missed an opportunity for him to terminate his wife, and actually have a crying moment.
And how did the wife get bitten. Going to a boat where they scavenged some food. My daughter has pointed out that all TV shows are based on people not telling the truth or lying. She went to the boat because the husband said it was safe. The mechanism is used in movies because it allows us to move the script forward. Lazy is what it is. And what was the item she sought, a razor because she didn’t like hubby’s beard. She deserved to die.
Alright, so let’s believe that he loved her so much that he was willing to let her turn into a Zombie (horribly cruel if you ask me). So they decide to abandon their houseboat, and go onto land to get to a hospital (did I mention there wasn’t a cure). So they find a car with gas, and their just happened to be a gas can, and they are on the road. They are chatting and there is someone on the road (zombie) and he swerves to avoid it, crashing into a tree. If they had only watched Zombieland or Night of the Living Deb, that is either Zombie kill of the week, or 5 points.
Of course, his wife now has a tree trunk sticking through her, and he has a slight concussion and passes out. When he wakes up he checks on the daughter in the back seat, and he is bitten by his wife. So we had to go through all of this to setup the trek by himself. He now starts his timer (in the government Zombie kit) and sets off across the outback with his daughter. My wife’s complaint, to which I agree, the wife turned very quickly, 10 to 15 minutes of screen time, it took Martin another hour. With everything they went through, it seemed like longer than the wife.
There was your typical evil white guy, who kidnapped a woman, and killed the Zombies using people as bait. He was hoarding everything for when the world settled down. I was okay with him hoarding, and the zombie killing the way he did. But then they made him evil, which I thought was excessive. Again, you are creating the scenario just to force something. It wasn’t a particularly creative segment to the story.
What was interesting, and they haven’t explored in US films, is the native population, in the case the Aborigines had raiding parties to go out and kill the zombies. In the end, Martin is seeking them out to give them his baby. Martin is led by a young Aborigine girl, Thoomi, who takes care of her dad who is a Zombie. She is hiding from her mom who leads the raiding parties, because she doesn’t want her dad to die.
Long story short, they kill the evil white dude, Martin turns but they lead him like a horse with a carrot, until they find Thoomi’s mom. The Aborgines take the baby and kill Martin. The end.
They tried to add a bit of sentimentality to the end, when Thoomi sprays perfume in the air, and Martin has apparently a moment remembering who he is and then Thoomi allows his family to kill Martin. It ends showing an Aborigine tribe safe in valley surround by cliffs.
It never felt like Martin cared for Thoomi at all. He was just using her to find a safe place for his daughter. If they had developed more of a relationship in which they cared about each other, then you could have made the ending scene where Thoomi pulls the trigger on him, while he is still human very moving.
The whole stick with a piece of meat was just ridiculous.
Oh, and one final thing that irked me. In 48 hours, he was in a car accident, bitten, shot, walked hundreds of miles, and turning to Zombie, and he seemed to have no problem keeping going. That became too much in the end for me, he made John McClain for Die Hard look like a wimp.
To me the movie lacked emotion. I like the fact they tried not to do an action Zombie movie. But if you do that, then you better focus on the connections between people. The only moment I felt anything was when the kidnapped woman stepped in front of the bullet saving Martin and Thoomi.
Or they could have done a whole bit where Thoomi said he would be an Aborigine fire side story, blah blah blah, and as he smiles, Thoomi pulls the trigger.
-1 for stupid people and the stick, and -1 for failing to make me feel bad that people died.
I really liked the medical kit/box. Thought that was really smart, and then I liked the inclusion of the Aborigines, and how the natives will make it through.