Cargo is a new Bahamian drama-thriller film written and directed by Kareem Mortimer. The movie follows a struggling Bahamian fisherman who is drowning in debt from a gambling addiction and high bills for his son’s education as he results to human smuggling as a way of supporting his family.
The story of this film is very melodramatic at its core, which is a cause of a majority of its problems. Although some sequences do have the intended effect, much of the movie feels like we are taking a roundabout way of approaching a simple story. Had the film cut some of the subplots, like the protagonist’s failing marriage, the movie would have been far shorter and more interesting.
One of the most frustrating things about this film is that the pacing is terrible. For the most part, the movie is consistent — just not in a good way. It is extremely slow, especially towards the beginning as we are being introduced to the protagonist and his world. The only truly exciting part of the film comes at the very end, and by that time, it is too little too late.
The character development is lacking too. The protagonist is a mostly compelling character because his motivation is to care for his family. However, in a few instances during the movie, we see him do something that feels abnormal for the character as he was introduced to us. These moments wreck our connection to the character and draw us even further out of the film.
That being said, the movie does offer some interesting (if a bit under-baked) commentary on desperation. Over the course of the film, we see the lengths to which the protagonist is driven to survive and provide for his family. Although the movie could have done more to talk about the social factors which put him in that situation, it is mostly thought-provoking regardless.
Additionally, the acting in the film was surprisingly very good. Warren Brown plays the protagonist in a way that is very nuanced and effective, packed full of emotion. Brown is particularly impressive in the climax of the movie as he is driven over the edge of sanity. He is complemented by a solid supporting cast including Omar J. Dorsey and Persia White.
On a technical level, the film was mostly impressive, especially given the fact that the Bahamas aren’t necessarily known for their filmmakers. The production qualities are quite good for the most part, aside from a handful of shots that feel overly artsy. The movie uses color in an interesting way, especially with the motif of water.
Overall, Cargo was a well-executed but shallowly-written film. It definitely could have spared to be shorter and more consistent, but audiences may be able to connect with the story enough as-is.
Cargo opens in theaters on June 7.