Movie Review: Precious Cargo (2016)
“Never steal from a thief”
Precious Cargo (2016)
Director: Max Adams
Cast: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Bruce Willis, Claire Forlani
Synopsis: An easy-going thief must help an old flame to steal a fortune in gems to prevent her from being executed by a ruthless crime lord.
Precious Cargo is one of those criminal fairy tales which take place in a wealthy kingdom the police have never heard of, and in which wicked witches mentally prepare a housewives’ to-do list of multi-million dollar heists for bewitched princes to carry out at a couple of days’ notice. It’s safe to say that realism wasn’t high on the list of director and co-writer (with Paul V. Seetachitt) Max Adams’ priorities when he decided to turn his 2008 short of the same name into a full-blown feature. Although, to give Precious Cargo it’s due, it makes its tenuous attachment to reality obvious from the very first scene, in which, after having been felled by a blank to the face at point-blank range, amiable master criminal Jack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) pops back up like a slim, bestubbled weeble (Adams and Seetachitt seem to have ignored the fact that even blanks are projectiles which can seriously rearrange a face at close range).
Jack steals things for a living, which technically makes him a bad guy; but he’s also that modern phenomenon, the good-bad guy for no other reason than the film wants us to like him, and he’s not as bad as the other bad guys. He’s up against duplicitous former partner-in-crime and old flame, Karen (Claire Forlani – Flashbacks of a Fool), who shows up a few months after leaving him claiming that he’s responsible for the state of her bulging belly, and then entangles him in the web of multi-millionaire crime boss Eddie (a subdued Bruce Willis – Fire with Fire, Marauders) who’s after her for the proceeds from a robbery she carried out after he ditched it at the planning stage. You could sort of understand his point of view if he was after, say, 50% of the proceeds, but greedy Eddies wants 100%, which places him firmly in the bad-bad guy corner.
Precious Cargo might have been an A-lister’s movie back in the 1990s – in fact, the part of Jack is one that a younger Willis could easily have played – and, to be fair, its production values are pretty high considering its competing with VOD movies rather than theatrical releases. But times have moved on, and the way that Precious Cargo ignores the realities of the world feels a little outdated. Gosselaar does a good job in the lead – although one can imagine Paul Walker being lined up for the part before he sped off this mortal coil – but everyone else appears to be treating it as the second-rate product it clearly is. Willis, in particular, is clearly on the screen for no other reason than someone is paying him an over-inflated sum of money to do so, and couldn’t act any less interested in anything taking place around him. His is little more than yet another extended cameo role, anyway, and the majority of bad-guy duties are apportioned to Daniel Bernhardt, who looks not unlike a young Sean Connery.
Precious Cargo is a decent but forgettable time-waster with a risible plot which is just about held together by some decent action scenes and a couple of funny lines.
(Reviewed 13th July 2016)