Retro Review: CARGO (2006){0}

There’s more than enough doom, gloom, and moody atmosphere in the creaky but engaging maritime thriller Cargo (2006) to help one forgive its more familiar components, and even at its weaker moments it offers a great pair of performances that manage to keep the ship afloat.

Yes, that was a very terrible pun. My apologies.

Cargo is about a young German named Chris (Daniel Brühl), who finds he must stow away on a ship bound for Marseilles, after butting heads with some of Africa’s more impatient police officers. As an actual stowaway, Chris is not exactly an expert. He is quickly discovered by a huge, naked, lunatic of a sailor (don’t ask) and taken before Captain Brookes (Peter Mullan), a stern but sane skipper who sentences Chris to basic ship labour in exchange for his passage out of Africa. But then some of the other crew members start going missing… and then that crazy guy strips naked again… and also there are mysterious people skittering through the deepest bowels of the ship’s cargo hold. Suffice to say that Chris has stowed away on quite possibly the most dysfunctional cargo ship ever put to sea.

In its most provocative moments, Cargo deals in some morally murky waters. For example, should Chris assist other stowaways, since he also shares their status? And what if some of those stowaways are actually humans being sold into the slave trade? And what’s with that naked guy?!?

Exceedingly well-shot, and boasting two fine performances (Brühl and the always excellent Mullan), Cargo may not be the flashiest or most intense thriller you’ll see this month, but it does have a gloomy vibe, a quietly compelling story, and a few unexpected bits you may not see coming.


Scott Weinberg (@scottEweinberg)

CARGO is available to stream or download at  (UK only)