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New Release Review - PRECIOUS CARGO

A criminal is forced to pull off a heist to save the life of a former lover.





Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Max Adams

Starring: Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Bruce Willis, Claire Forlani



The script is hackneyed, Willis is awful, and the action scenes are on the level of a Walker, Texas Ranger episode, but there's an undeniable innocent charm about this little underdog that makes it far more palatable than the majority of its bigger budgeted action cousins.



Bruce Willis's career has seen better days. His last few movies have bypassed cinemas and gone straight to VOD markets, and though his latest, Precious Cargo, is receiving a theatrical release, it's very much the sort of B-grade action flick that would have debuted on the lower shelves of Blockbuster 20 years ago, boasting a cast made up of (unfairly in most cases) has-beens, never-weres and never-will-bes.



Mark-Paul Gosselaar (best known from his days on '90s sitcom Saved by the Bell) plays Jack, a criminal entrepeneur who somehow seems to have evaded arrest (the police never make an appearance in this world) despite leaving a trail of corpses behind him. When an ex lover of his, Karen (Claire Forlani, continuing the '90s throwbacks), turns up out of the blue, he ends up being convinced to help her pull off an armoured car robbery so she can pay off her debt to dangerous mob boss Eddie (Willis). But can Karen really be trusted?



As has been the norm for a while now, Willis phones in his performance here. Like Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, he's always filmed above the waist, which got me wondering if Willis spent the entire shoot in a seated position. The same can't be said of his co-stars though, whose energy and enthusiasm goes above and beyond the call of duty for a script as mediocre as this one.

Gosselaar oozes charisma, and makes for a convincingly charming rogue. There's something of the Chris Pratt about him, and on the strength of this he deserves a proper career revival. Forlani is really enjoying playing the femme fatale here, and it's refreshing to see an actress over the age of 40 given such a playful role. Young newcomer Jenna B Kelly, whose only previous credit is another recent Willis B-actioner, Extraction, is a standout here as Gosselaar's mouthy sniper sidekick. Perennial bad guy Daniel Bernhardt is a riot as Willis's henchman; a scene in which he dishes out verbal abuse to his employer's bevy of silicon enhanced bimbos is the film's highlight.




The movie appears to model itself on the Fast & Furious template of a gang of criminals who aren't really all that bad (even though they murder an awful lot of people), but with an old school laissez faire attitude and a far more sympathetic running time. Had this been made 40 years ago, Burt Reynolds would have played Gosselaar's role (we even get a blooper reel alongside the closing credits here).

The script is hackneyed, Willis is awful, and the action scenes are on the level of a Walker, Texas Ranger episode, but there's an undeniable innocent charm about this little underdog that makes it far more palatable than the majority of its bigger budgeted action cousins.

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