Netflixable? Freeman headlines “Cargo,” a downbeat Down Under Zombie Odyssey

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Et tu, Netflix?

Here I am, trying to track down “The Quiller Memorandum,” and you don’t have the rights/bandwidth capacity to be the World’s Greatest Repository of 100 years of Feature Films. But you’re spending money on another GD zombie movie?

That’s all “Cargo” is. We’ve seen scores of variations of this tale, a family avoiding “the infected,” this time in Australia’s Outback, making fateful, sacrificial choices when the infection gets into the family.

Zombies even have their own soap opera on TV, “The Walking/Boring Dead.” Shot in Georgia. Australia, at least, is photogenic.

It’s a road picture, like “The Road,” with Martin Freeman playing the heroic dad who tries to get his toddler into the hands of somebody “still people” after his wife dies and he fears the worst in himself.

Speaking of Australian journey-quest narratives, why isn’t “Rabbit-Proof Fence,” a near-masterpiece, on Netflix? Or “Walkabout?” Never mind.

“Cargo” takes Freeman, as Andy, down the remote rivers, scavenging to provide for wife Kay (Susie Porter) and baby Rosie, until that day Kay is bitten. It’s the Even More post-Apocalyptic Every Man for Himself Future that’s replaced the post Apocalyptic Every Man for Himself present, so even the happy family family you see celebrating a birthday ashore has a gun-brandishing “Move ALONG, stranger” demeanor.

That’s OK. Maybe a croc or something bit Kay.

“It had FINGERS, Andy!”

With every bite, we reset the 48 hour clock before the zombie turns. It’s a FitBit countdown. And so we’ve got another ticking clock zombie thriller where you try to save the uninfected and Civilization Itself before the infected one is lost.

Kay gets the stakes and is resigned to what is coming. Andy? He wants to find a town, and a hospital. As if there’s any hope of either of those in “Road Warrior with Zombies Land.

He meets a former teacher (Kris McQuade), an aboriginal girl (Simone Landers) still feeding captured game to his zombie dad, and a survivalist (Anthony Hayes) and his ladyfriend (Caren Pistorious) who show just how low humanity will sink, and how fast, when everything breaks down.

Except for the One Truck to Survive the Apocalypse, as seen in SO Many Movies — 1990s vintage Jeep Cherokees. Hey, I drove two of them over 200,000 miles. I agree with that cliche.

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The Aboriginal “old ways” are celebrated, in that patronizing way movies have of indulging indigenous patois, closeness to nature and Native People are Magic ethos.

Freeman gives a little something to moments of angst. But seriously. Yawn.

It’s a movie so familiar in its tropes, storybeats and dialogue that it feels like a half-forgotten picture or TV show you’ve already seen. The makeup is often “Walking Dead” mediocre.

If you’re watching it, why? If you’re reading this, consider yourself warned.

And if you work for Netflix, seriously, “Rabbit Proof Fence.” There’s a whole world of truly “original” cinema that no one saw in theaters and most have missed on Netflix. Maybe stick to trying teen comedies. At least that’s a niche nobody else is flooding the market with.

1half-star

MPAA Rating: unrated, graphic, bloody violence, disturbing images.

Cast: Martin Freeman, Susie Parker, Simone Landers, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius, Kris McQuade

Credits:Directed by Ben HowlingYolanda Ramke script by Yolanda Ramke. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:44

 

 

 

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