Precious Cargo Review


Many articles have been written about the once strapping, now defunct 80s action hero/ era since the golden age of Rambo, The Terminator and Die Hard, but this flat-pack thriller co-starring Bruce Willis is no return to form for the genre, period or signature icon. Even though Willis has been cast against type in a supporting role, as a bad guy, he has shredded the screen charisma that adorned his earlier work. With a title that reads like a stamp on the side of a freight container, the 80s action hero’s latest, Precious Cargo, is far from what it’s crest suggests, but a jarring action-heist lumber with juddering stunts, galling characters, faulty performances and inane dialogue.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar is Jack, a brash, wise-ass jewel thief who assists his ex-girlfriend Karen (Claire Forlani) in paying back squinting crime lord Eddie (Bruce Willis) by helping her out in a diamond robbery. Things go south when Jack and Karen are forced into  combat with Eddie and his crew of knuckle-faced hoodlums in an explosive, fist grazing, shell spitting stand-off. Despite a few energised (but preposterous) action sequences and decent editing, writer/ director Max Adams’ debut feature is a jerky trudge through well charted terrain, tainted by clichés, genre stereotypes, hack directing and infantile comedy which, along with the inflated set-pieces, fail to meld with the grittier, crime thriller facets.

From a pithy Miami Vice-like/ gun deal gone wrong opener, introducing us to the wise-cracking “hero” Jack, we swan into a sub-plot involving pregnant heroine Karen and Willis’ suit wearing super-bastard with a sadistic squint in place of the trademark smirk. Willis emits lines like: “Why is it that these ties look like they’ve been dipped in shit?” while drooling clichéd allegories about life being like chess. The daft dialogue evokes the inanity of a belligerent male teenager lobotomised by gun porn and while there are a couple of striving to be high-octane set pieces which take the form of a choppy boat/ van chase along with vibrant gun battles and punch-ups, Precious Cargo is let down by defects in almost every aspect of its production.

It’s story is blemished by an incredible amount of sexism which pervades the already too juvenile comedy and taints its very core. One character slides a condom over a gun barrel while another informs a poolside prostitute: “I’m going to bitch slap you so hard, your brand new tits are gonna pop out of your ass,” which even Cary Grant couldn’t relay with panache. Claire Forlani provides the best performance as Karen, Willis plods like he’s either lost or just lost the plot/ will to live while Jack (Gosselaar) is under-developed, over-confident, two-dimensional and far too aggravating to be a lead character.

Precious Cargo feels more like a direct-to-video action flick corrupted by the make-shift hallmarks that neutered the genre nearly thirty years ago. An elongated ending with a puppy on a beach and an excruciating blooper reel prolongs the agony further so make a dash for the exit when the closing credits start to avoid the excess pain, or just don’t bother going to see it in the first place.

Precious Cargo
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Daniel Goodwin
Daniel Goodwin is a prevalent film writer for multiple websites including HeyUGuys, Scream Horror Magazine, Little White Lies, i-D and Dazed. After studying Film, Media and Cultural Studies at university and Creative Writing at the London School of Journalism, Daniel went on to work in TV production for Hat Trick Productions, So Television and The London Studios. He has also worked at the Home Office, in the private office of Hilary Benn MP and the Coroner's and Burials Department, as well as on the Movies on Pay TV market investigation for the Competition Commission.
precious-cargo-reviewFeels more like a direct-to-video action flick corrupted by the make-shift hallmarks that neutered the genre nearly thirty years ago.