Film review: Cargo

If you think the whole zombie apocalypse thing has had its day, then track down Cargo (currently running on Netflix UK) and think again.

In the aftermath of the aforementioned zombie apocalypse, Andy is traveling alone through the Australian Outback with his daughter, Rosie. He’s recently lost his wife to the virus and has been bitten himself. Within 48 hours, the virus will transform him into a mindless, flesh-eating, pus-leaking zombie. So he has just 48 hours to find someone to take care of Rosie …

What makes this film a rare treat is that it focuses less on the actual apocalypse and more on the surviving humans. In that regard I suppose it’s closer to the Walking Dead than World War Z, but the thing that sets Cargo apart is that there are only a handful of zombies in it. In fact, there’s not much of anything.

Okay, that’s not strictly true: the Outback has a barren, intense beauty about it, which the directors have used to great effect. Other than that, the story is carried by a stunning (and I mean literally stunning) performance by the brilliant Martin Freeman: Andy doesn’t have a shotgun or a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire; all he has is his ingenuity and the determination to do right by his daughter in the little time he has left.

He meets a diverse bunch of survivors along the way, many as desperate as he is. Others have made their peace with the end of the human race and are just calmly waiting it out. And of course, at the end of all you hold dear, you’ll run into the occasional lowlife who seeks the collapse of civilisation as a way to make a fast buck.

There’s a quiet urgency about this film that draws you in: at one point, I even found myself urging Andy to stop messing about with some idiot because he’s short of time and he has a job to do.

As films go, I find very little to fault it. The acting is superb, the dialogue is excellent, the plot is as tight as any blockbuster I’ve seen, and I love the notion that the Aboriginals knew it was coming. But for me, it was Freeman’s performance that makes it work so well. The humanity he brings to the role will make you weep like a child at the end. (I stood up and clapped in my own living room – and there was no one else there).

Seriously, if you’re zombie-jaded then see Cargo. If this doesn’t reignite your passion for this genre, then at least you’ll be going out on the best zombie flick you’re ever likely to see.

Ten out of ten.

Join in…