7:30 PM, 17th August, 2018
Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo) is a mild-mannered Nigerian immigrant and an all-round nice guy stuck in a hapless, dead-end job. But all that looks about to change when the American pharmaceutical company he works for develops a marijuana pill to revolutionise the drug trade, and his bosses (Theron and Joel Edgerton, younger brother of director Nash) choose Harold to hand deliver the secret formula to the manufacturing plant in Mexico.
Unfortunately for Harold, this quickly turns out too good to be true, as he soon discovers that his bosses have double-crossed a drug cartel and are actually setting him up to take the fall. Deciding he’s had enough, Harold hatches a scheme of his own to turn the tables once and for all. Or so he thinks.
Stuntman-turned-director Nash Edgerton’s sophomore effort couldn’t be further from his 2008 Aussie noir thriller The Square. Darkly comic, twist-filled, and Tarantino-esque, Gringo makes for a fun night out, thanks largely to its fine ensemble cast. Theron in particular is ferociously fun to watch, but Oyelowo truly impresses by letting loose with an unexpected comedic turn after his recent string of oh-so-serious roles in films like Selma and A United Kingdom.
9:30 PM, 17th August, 2018
A virus has devastated most of Australia. Andy (Freeman) and Kay (Porter) live on a houseboat on a river with their one-year-old daughter Rosie, barely surviving on what food they can scavenge. Nearby, a young Aboriginal girl, Thoomi (Simone Landers), keeps watch over an infected man, caring for him but keeping her distance for her own safety. Following sudden tragedy, their paths will cross, and they will be forced to survive together in a dangerous and hostile country. And one of them is already infected...
Cargo is undoubtedly an intense horror film, both the horrors without (as the infected hover around our leads), and within (as people start to turn on one another with casual cruelty). There’s an assured sense of Aboriginal spirituality from writer/director Ramke, and her co-director Howling, combined with a vividly created, broken-down, post-apocalyptic world.
Freeman dominates in a role that’s unlike his usual work. Still with the essential decency of his other characters – from Tim from “The Office” to Watson in “Sherlock” – but with greater depth, pain and eventual heroism. A strong Australian supporting cast gives Cargo a great deal of gravity and reality. Scary, relevant and heartfelt.