A man wakes trapped inside a cargo container with only a cell phone and is given 24 hours by his kidnappers to raise ten million dollars in ransom or die.
James Dylan's [CARGO] has got problems, many of which understandably come by way of its low budget trappings. So it's no surprise that Ron Thompson is pretty much the only actor present on-screen throughout the course of the film's eighty-minute run time. That the entire film takes place in a dimly lit cargo container. And that those two things further compound the rest of the film's issues. It isn't easy acting alone, against a phone call, in the dark. It isn't easy building a compelling story with so few resources available. The ability to deliver on its premise, maintain audience attention, and really just keep things interesting until the credits roll; that's no small task even for a bigger production let alone one this anemically produced. I personally hated Phone Booth. I thought Shyamalan's Devil ran out of steam long before it ended. Panic Room bored me to tears. Not that this odd stuck-in-a-room sub genre can't be done right (Buried was great), but most of the time? Nah, just stinkers. And if it wasn't for the double-edged sword that is Ron Thompson's performance, I'd have to lump [CARGO] with the former group as well.
Right, so let me be clear. Thompson's Anthony Peterson is a pretty terrible character. Poorly acted, poorly written, uninteresting, corny, and just for good measure a complete and total asshole. Yet, these are the exact same qualities which compelled me to watch his situation play out from beginning to end. I couldn't help but laugh, sometimes hysterically, whenever Peterson spoke to his captor over the phone. His inflection giving the impression that he's both drunk, confused, and unsure of himself or his responses made for (I'm assuming) unintentional comedy-gold. It made me think to myself, just how pissed off is this criminal having to deal with someone this inept. Inadvertently turning the tables just by being himself is some next-level Mr. Magoo shit, and I totally dig it.
Expanding on that, pretty much any interaction between the unfortunate idiot and the rest of the off-screen cast, is something that's assuredly going to split your sides. The conversations with his assistant "Tom", who's somehow even more incompetent than he is, makes for some of the most incredible cringe-inducing moments in [CARGO] (just wait till you get to the part about dead hookers, coke, infidelity and running traffic lights). Hell, I'd say the film is worth watching for those moments alone.
Of course, what enables all this magic to happen in the first place, is the absolutely bonkers story these characters are encapsulated in. There are more nonsensical twists and turns than any 5 minutes of 2008's Speed Racer. More deus ex machina than a Marvel superhero film. And more drama than ten episodes of The Jerry Springer Show. To distill it into a single word, [CARGO]'s story is nothing more than pure...shmegegge, and like the ridiculous performances contained within, I'm 100% on board with it.
If this brand of ludicrosity sounds right up your alley, or even if it doesn't - if you're simply looking for vapidly entertaining cinema, I can't recommend this one enough. Keep an eye out on Wild Eye Releasing's website (god bless 'em) for the eventual release scheduled sometime around the 13th of November. In the meantime, have a listen to the soundtrack - it's actually pretty damn good.