Film Review: [CARGO] (2018)

[CARGO] ** USA 2018 Dir: James Dylan 80 mins

When Anthony Peterson (Ron Thompson) awakes trapped inside a large empty container he tries to gather any information on what has happened to him.  The only other object inside the container is a mobile phone. The phone rings and when he answers he is met by the disguised voice of a man that tells Peterson he has been kidnapped. Not only that but they have his wife and if he does not wire them 10 Million dollars as ransom in the next 24 hours they will rape and murder his wife so he can hear everything and then kill him. Peterson then uses the phone to call associates to gather the funds needed to save his skin, if he makes any attempt to call the authorities he dies instantly.
Shot entirely from within the container the only actor on screen is Thompson, the rest of the cast are just voices heard over the phone as he desperately calls in favours, begging and stealing his already ill gotten gains to try and free himself. Not a particularly moral man himself he knows a few unsavoury characters that he uses to try and uncover his kidnapper.  Choosing to shoot a movie in this way is a risky move. Considering the rollercoaster of emotions experienced when watching say BURIED or 127 HOURS  this is obviously trying very hard to convey similar emotions but unfortunately doesn’t quite compete. It certainly tries its best but it lacks one of the most important elements…a convincing lead. Thompson, although a confident and competent actor seems a bit out of his depth here and doesn’t really have the charisma for this role. Fair play to him for being the soul figure on screen the whole time and there were some positives to his character but more then a few factors let it down. The sound during the phone calls is very overbearing. I guess they are over compensating for the lack of visuals but I think they have definitely over egged the background noises here, it seems all a bit too much information to process by sound alone when they were better off trying to simplify things, less is more as they say. As well as the similarities to BURIED it also has a bit of a SAW element to it where the kidnapper forces Peterson to mutilate himself in an attempt to pay off the ransom. This starts off quite well but due to poor execution it doesn’t have much viewer impact. The whole idea seems like a bit of an after thought as the scene is over very quickly and not really mentioned throughout the rest of its runtime. There is a bit of blood but the self mutilation remains half hidden or off screen entirely. Theoretically this is a great idea,  the synopsis certainly peaks your interest.  For director James Dylans first movie it is a bold move and a brave attempt from him and the cast and for a low budget movie shooting it all within a container alleviates the need for a flash location but unfortunately it’s not as hard hitting as the movies it borrows it’s ideas from.

Review by Sarah Budd

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