Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cargo (2010) Film Review
In space, it may well be that no one can hear you scream... but just about anyone who has seen any of the major space-set or futuristic thrillers from the past few decades will find the cliches of the genre ringing out in this Swiss sci-fi. In fairness, there seem to be only two ways to represent spaceships and their contents - either as sleek, clinical piles of newfanglery or as dirty, clanging hunks of industrial grimness - but even if the look has to, almost inevitably, recall space stories past, that's no excuse for the narrative to stick to genre staples more tightly than a face-sucking Alien.
The first warning bell comes with the set up. It's 2267 and Earth is ravaged and virtually uninhabitable, meaning that the human race has been forced into overcrowded space stations orbiting the planet. A few, who are either lottery lucky or fiscally loaded have been able to relocate to the idyllic planet of Rhea. After her sister has won a place for her and her family in this 'promised land', Doctor Laura Portman (Anna-Katharina Schwabroh) takes a job aboard the portentously named Kassandra as part of an eight-year mission to deliver unspecified cargo to a space station near Rhea to raise the cash to join her sibling.
Sci-fi utopias are so very seldom what they seem and, despite early hopes that first-time co-directors/co-writers Ivan Engler and Arnold Bucher might be using this idea subversively, it soon becomes obvious that original ideas, like habitable places on earth, are pretty scarce.
Borrowing plotlines and style liberally from everything from Blade Runner through to The Matrix and Sunshine, the look of the film is great, especially considering it's low budget, but there is so much going on that none of the narrative strands are properly fed. There's the mysterious 'biohazard' cargo, the crew going into stasis in vats of gloop, the shifty security chief (Martin Rapold) and in a heavy piece of early exposition, the suspicion that a Luddite-style terrorist may be on the loose. No one's motivations are adequately explored and aspects of romance thrown in so clumsily they are almost laughable. The film's biggest problem, however, is that despite all its heavy layers of plot, very little actually happens. Action scenes are all too frequently skirted round to make room for yet another lump of narrative or shot so confusingly that it's hard to work out what is going on.
There is a kernel of a good idea here, but the whisper of intelligence is drowned out by the clamour of everything else.Reviewed on: 31 Jul 2010