May 31, 2019 Cargo (Movie Review)
Refuges are generally people who are so desperate to make a better life for themselves that they are willing to risk everything to make it to country they believe promises opportunity. Legal ways are out of reach, so they turn to men and women who work under the cover of darkness to traffic them with a strong desire to survive. These topics in mind, Writer/Director Kareem Mortimer (Eleutheran Adventure 2006, Children of God 2010) looks to highlight the struggles and dangers for Haitians in the Bahamas with his new film Cargo.
In theaters on June 7th through Artists Rights Distribution, the story of Cargo follows Kevin (Warren Brown: Luther series, Strike Back series) who is a down on his luck fisherman who is drowning in responsibilities. He has a bitter agoraphobic wife Berneice (Persia White: Girlfriends series, The Vampire Diaries series), a dementia impaired mother, and a young son away at boarding school all to take care of. All need him to make money in order to keep their lives afloat. Money is not something that is easy to come by for most in the Bahamas. Kevin’s gambling addiction does not help the situation. He is soon approached to traffic Haitian refugees to the US using his fishing boat. Kevin knows it is risky, but the money is too tempting to pass up. He is, on the surface, willing to do whatever it takes to do the best he can for his family.
He is not the only one who is struggling. Celianne (Gessica Geneus: Cousines 2006, Everything But a Man 2017), a single Haitian mother, also cannot seem to get ahead and keep herself afloat. She tries to stay optimistic for her son’s future but knows that without money and opportunity it will be difficult. Her life intertwines with Kevin’s. Both are searching for a way out of their hopeless situations. Will Kevin finally be able to fully support his family in a way that they will never need? Can Celianne get her son to the US and give him the life he deserves? Or will the dangers of smuggling refugees overtake them all and seal their fate in the most tragic of ways?
Brown’s Kevin is a highly flawed man, but his heart is in the right place. He has made many mistakes in his life he just does not know how to fix them. It is difficult to place whether he is a good or bad man because his intentions are pure. He needs to take care of his family. Money is the only way he knows how to do this. He is likeable in the sense that though he knows what his responsibilities are, he has no real tools to know exactly how to do this. His past and now his current situation all led him to illegal activities to try and survive. It is obvious the struggle he has as he is smuggling his cargo of people. He has to disconnect from them. They cannot be seen as humans otherwise the gravity of the situation will be too much for them. They are just a means to an end. He is the poster-child of how many core decent people end up as criminals. Sometimes circumstance crime is the only way to survive.
Human smuggling is a tricky business. There are many who feel trapped in their own countries. Whether it be because of poverty and lack of opportunity, legal issues, or political persecution there are countless people throughout the world who are struggling to flee their situation. Miles of red tape and money are just some of the reasons that escape to a new better country is impossible to many. Those who feel there is no hope often take the dangerous chance and pay smugglers to transport them to the US. This is not only highly illegal but could also be dangerous for those taking the chance. Sickness, high stress, and under the cover of darkness death is a very real consequence to some who are willing to take the chance and pay people to get them to another country.
The Bahamas is seen as a picturesque paradise for fun and relaxation. Cargo changes this view and allows the truth of what is bubbling under the sun soaked surface to come to light. Racism speaks loudly in this film. It is clear that both the color of skin and country of origin matter to those living in the Bahamas. White, like Kevin, is seen as someone who has it easy. It is the Haitians and Jamaicans that suffer the abuse as they are seen as lesser. This is clearly seen with Celianne’s struggle. She works hard at a café and is treated like she is stupid and inept. She is Haitian, and sadly that automatically means she does not deserve basic decency and dignity. There are several other instances precisely placed throughout the film. Each time the viewer should recoil with offense. Cargo sheds an uncomfortable light on how many throughout the world still struggle with stereotypes simply based on what they look like and where they were born.
Overall Cargo is an intellectual film that highlights many issues that plague the Bahamas and broadly other parts of the world. Poverty, racism, and refuges struggling to survive are just a few issues this film brilliantly highlights. With a cast of highly flawed, but somehow likeable characters, Cargo will invoke intense feelings in the viewer. Change is needed, people should not have to risk their lives to find opportunities to survive, but the only question is how and is it even possible? It is for these reasons Cryptic Rock gives Cargo 4.5 out of 5 stars.