Cargo is a low budget (though you can’t tell) Swiss film with a German soundtrack and English subtitles. It’s a good-looking film, with some impressive special effects, a plot that keeps you guessing and moments of real tension and drama.
There are moments where you’ll be expecting a film experience similar to Event Horizon or Sphere, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the end result: not necessarily original, but definitely refreshing, well paced and thoughtfully constructed.
Following an environmental disaster on Earth, the remains of the human race live aboard overcrowded space stations hoping for a better life on the far off planet Rhea. Laura Portmann is one such individual hoping she can escape to this brave new world, signing up for a job on the ageing rust bucket of a ship that is Kassandra as it travels to Space Station 42 to repair it in preparation for the arrival of the masses.
Obviously, Station 42 is a far away place, thus we get the whole cryo-chamber thing with each crew member sleeping for a great period of time, whilst one of their colleagues keeps watch, all alone. Portmann starts her shift three years and eight months after the Kassandra has launched, waking to her lonely shift only to find there are strange noises and something in the cargo hold.
Given no choice but to wake the captain and crew from their cryostasis, the crew investigate the noises and find they are not carrying construction material, but something unexpected and very much alive. Portmann sets out to investigate further, with the help of Security Marshal Decker, while the crew attempt to find out what happened and fix the ship.
All is not as it seems, as characters’ hidden agendas, secrets and the true nature of Kassandra’s mission are all gradually revealed. It turns out the plans for humanity didn’t go well, and Rhea isn’t the utopia it seems. The authorities have made Rhea a success, but at the expense of human independence. Not only that, things aren’t as bad on Earth as the authorities have been making out, and the terrorist threat is more environmental than destructive.
Cargo is a visually impressive film belying its low budget. Much of the Kassandra is submerged in darkness, adding to the atmosphere. What we do see looks impressive and expansive, with plenty of long shots showing the depths of the ship. The space sequences, including a remarkably well-conceived shot of the overcrowded space station, and a space walk around Rhea and Station 42, are breathtaking in their execution.
Cargo is a story of hope and dreams tainted by reality and failure. In the last fifteen minutes, we are taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride that replaces the moment when I feared the film would go all Matrix on me. It’s a ride worth taking for all lovers of science fiction, independent film and those who want something other than big budget nonsense.
Well, when it comes to extras, we’re treated to a trailer and an option to turn the subtitles off. Oh, and there’s scene selection.
The picture remains clean throughout, whilst the soundtrack is presented in an effective 2.0. Sadly, there’s no broader surround sound to be found here.
Cargo is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.