Critic Consensus: Cargo takes a refreshingly character-driven approach to the zombie genre that's further distinguished by its Australian setting and Martin Freeman's terrific lead performance.
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Critic Reviews for Cargo
Cargo's big drawcard is its sheer humanity. There's a lot of tragedy on show here, and you'll have to be made of stern stuff indeed to make it through this outback odyssey without a few tears.
Cargo doesn't often satisfy on the genre's more sensational vectors. There are no hordes, few gouts of creative gore and a limited sense of danger.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay it is that I think George A. Romero himself would have liked it.
Co-directors Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke (the latter of whom wrote the screenplay) sacrifice some tension with their more character-based approach, but the cumulative effect is emotionally powerful.
Audience Reviews for Cargo
You know, I remember the days when there was a sort of novelty about Netflix original movies. I say this like it was ages ago when, in reality, Netflix has been releasing original movies (or films they bought the rights to at least) for almost three years now. It really hasn't been that long. I remember watching The Ridiculous Six (a dreadful movie) and thinking that, in spite of how bad movie was, the idea of just being able to watch a movie that was 'made' for Netflix was kinda cool. Now, of course, it's something you don't even think about. It's just something you look at and move on with your life. That novelty isn't there anymore, which is what happens when you release, at least, one original movie per week. Sometimes even more, but those are films Netflix themselves doesn't even push or promote as heavily. Regardless, I don't even know why I started with that little diatribe. Even worse, it's gonna lead into a second diatribe about the widely populate genre of zombie horror movies. I seem to mention this whenever I see one of these character-driven horror movies, but The Walking Dead certainly popularized this approach to telling a story within the genre. It certainly didn't innovate it, since George Romero, of course, came ages prior to The Walking Dead and showed people that these movie can be more than just mindless (pardon the pun) entertainment. It's just that a lot of people don't seem to know that and think that the Walking Dead is the first of its kind. I've made my issues with The Walking Dead known. It's boring and its character are incredibly one-dimensional. But, again, to say that it's opened the doors for more character-driven zombie movies is correct. Even if, in my opinion, a lot of these movies are considerably better than TWD. This, of course, brings us to Cargo. A movie that I was interested in since seeing its trailer yet one that, somehow, I only watched the day before yesterday. One interesting thing about the trailer is that they frame the hunting parties (ie: aborigines who went back to their 'land' when the world started turning 'sick') as villains. When, in reality, they are the exact opposite. The people they are 'eliminating' are those already too far gone with the disease so, really, they are the heroes of the film, in that way. And, later on, in another way too. So that was...a little interesting. Also, spoiler alert, this movie is better than anything I've ever seen out of The Walking Dead. I don't wanna say the movie takes a minimalist approach to its zombies, but they're not the focal point of the movie. I mean, technically, they are in that their existence is why Andy and Rosie, his one-year-old daughter find themselves in the situation they are in. That and because Andy got bitten by his wife who, obviously, had turned into a zombie. The virus in this movie works in 48 hours, so Andy has that amount days to find someone to take care of his daughter before he, inevitably, turns into a zombie himself while also dealing with the symptoms during that same time. I've always thought it and, probably, said it in one of these reviews, but if you're gonna make a post-apocalyptic movie, set it in Australia. There is no better setting, with the outback and the isolation. It's a perfect setting. It always helps to set the mood and atmosphere that the world is just no longer the same. And, of course, it is no different here. The setting is excellent and it captures exactly what they're going for. But, of course, as I mentioned, the movie sees Andy journeying to find someone who might take care of Rosie. The movie works in large part due to its strong character development. You don't spend a lot of time with Andy, but you know that he is a dedicated father who, in spite of some moments of weakness when he feels like it's about time to give up, will do whatever it needs to be done in order to save his daughter and get her to some people that will raise and take care of her. Andy runs afoul of this man, Vic, a psychopath, who throws him in this cage with Thoomi as bait. Thoomi, Andy and Rosie eventually escape this cage and they set off on their journey together. Thoomi has her own issues as well as she's kept her father, who's been turned into a zombie, hidden from her own mother (who's part of a hunting party) because she (this being Thoomi) believes that what her father has can be cured by the help of this Clever Man. Naturally, Thoomi's father is killed by the hunting parties. So Thoomi and Andy then come together and, in spite of being different people from different backgrounds, they share some similarities of what this life has taken from them. So, yea, both Andy and Thoomi, in their own ways, are both searching for redemption for, in their own minds, failing the ones they love. It works tremendously well. This is in large part due to Martin Freeman's excellent performance. Simone Landers, Thoomi, also does a great job as well here and her chemistry with Martin is very strong. I'll be honest, the movie certainly has its blood and gore, but it's in no way the best thing about this movie and, honestly, it didn't need to be. The characters are really strong, the writing is great and the setting is, of course, perfect. They had pretty much everything working for them so, in that case, the more violent aspects associated with this genre could have afforded to be non-factors. They weren't non-factors, but the movie obviously wasn't written around being a gore-fest. The narrative is very emotionally resonant. Just the way the characters interact with each other and the world interacts with them, you come to care for these people. And, in my opinion, the best thing that this movie does and, seemingly, not many other zombie movies have done is the fact that the movie ends in an incredibly hopeful fashion. The world, seemingly, will always be this way, but Rosie could not have been left in a more positive situation. She was left with people that will raise her, take care of her and love her. And seeing the aborigine community coming together at the end, hugging, laughing and smiling paints a really hopeful picture for Rosie's future. It's certainly a very bittersweet ending, given Andy's death and the fact he won't get to see his daughter grow up, but there's still that image of the community happy together in your mind that, honestly, is what you end up remembering the most. Andy accomplished his mission. And, quite frankly, it's a really lovely ending from a movie that I was not expecting a lovely ending from. I'm certain there's been other zombie movies with endings that come close to this, but there's still a very uncertain future ahead of them and that's what they focus on the most. But, again, and I hate to keep on this, the ending for this movie is lovely and it's beautiful. And, in spite of the movie being framed as a zombie horror, it never once feels out of place or at odds with the rest of the movie or its tone. It's the perfect ending for this narrative and these characters. Some might see it as sentimental, but it worked better than I could have possibly expected. In all honesty, I thought this was a damn good movie. I wouldn't say it's great or anything of the sort, but it falls just shy of that. And I do mean by like a hair. It reminds me of Here Alone, perhaps not thematically, but tonally and how it was driven entirely by its characters. I was a big fan of Here Alone but, in my opinion, this is even better than that. So if you enjoyed Here Alone, you'll love this one. I can't really complain at all about this movie, this is a very good movie and I would happily recommend it.
Better late than never to deliver this review of an Australian sleeper hit, despite what viewers might expect from 'Zombie' films these days, it only takes a particular film to really push the genre's innovation and boundaries to be really unique. I can gladly say without a doubt 'Cargo' fits that mold, fully immersed in it's Australian outback setting and the unsophisticated nature of the plot surrounding that of Martin Freeman's terrific lead performance. If I lost my chance seeing some films released on the big screen internationally than I persuade viewers here in Australia to not miss their chance of seeing this film on the big screen since it's streaming on Netflix internationally. Nonetheless, it's the unique premise and compelling nature of the characters and setting that really make this film stand out as it does, actually bringing something new to an otherwise crowded and overused genre.
Decent zombie thriller that doesn't add much to the genre but the fascinating setting of the australian outback. The plot has pretty unsettling and uncomfortable parts, but only little gore or action. Instead, an infected father's search for a safe harbor for his infant is character driven and relies on the atmosphere and the setting. That works and is entertaining enough, but considering the protagonists fate is sealed from early on it's not exactly a nail biter.
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