Australia’s attempt to break into the zombie apocalypse film market stars versatile British actor Martin Freeman as patriarch of a family who are trying to outrun a deadly virus which turns humans into feral zombies within 48 hours of contraction.
The storyline follows contrasting approaches to surviving a plague of the undead. Andy Rose- played by Freeman- opts to keep his family safe by living incognito on a boat-and making on-land skirmishes to procure vital supplies; out of sight means out of mind. Juxtaposed to this are a tribe of aborigines lead by “The Clever Man” in a part taken by David Gulpilil who opt to tackle the living dead ‘head on’ by engaging in combat with carriers to eradicate them (and the disease).
Both strategies are explored in depth and the producers do a decent job of highlighting the risk associated with each. This is none more so evident through the supporting role of Thoomi, a tribal child whose father has caught the disease during hand to hand combat and whom she refuses to leave behind. Her relationship with her Dad is mirrored by Freeman’s character who has the unenviable task of protecting his baby daughter Rosie who has no understanding of the world around her.
There are all the usual subplots associated with films of this genre- unscrupulous humans, a lack of natural resources and no sign of a cure. The make-up artist does a very good job of designing the metamorphosis of those struck down with the illness across the course of their 48 hour transition to the unconsciousness.
The film lets itself down by giving no context as to how Australia got into this situation or what the disease is actually caused by. It just feels like a snapshot in time with no real resolution. Similarly there is a lack of ‘connection’ between the actors in which Freeman obviously stands out from the crowd and on whom the producers have clearly blown most of their casting budget!
Cargo is decent quality weekend fodder, perfect for a takeaway and couple of drinks when you just want to unwind and not a bad attempt at Netflix’s first foray into the realm of incorporeal beings.
Viewed: January 2021