There’s a very small, shameful sense of nostalgia when thinking back to the affectionately terrible films you would stumble across late at night on terrestrial TV (and usually on Channel 5 – but no, not those movies). So you’d think there might be a gratifying trip down memory lane when watching Max Adams’ already dated b-movie Precious Cargo – but believe me there isn’t. Instead what transpires is an excruciating cinematic experience that serves as a harsh reminder that films of this nature were never actually much fun to indulge in at all.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar plays Jack, who agrees to assist his impregnated ex-girlfriend Karen (Claire Forlani) in completing a seemingly straightforward robbery of a cargo full of gems to help her pay back the uncompromising crime boss Eddie (Bruce Willis) – who is exactly the sort of person you don’t want to be in debt to. Needless to say when the job gets underway things fail to go as originally planned, as various allegiances are betrayed – resulting in a messy showdown between the couple, and Eddie, alongside his loyal band of merry criminals.
First and foremost, and with respect to Gosselaar, he hasn’t quite got the level of charisma needed to ensure we can believe in him as this wisecracking, hardened action hero; nor what allows for him to have an orbit of attractive women vying for his affections. The female creations within this piece are so questionable too, each so forgiving of the misogynistic male characters they encounter, and without any real emotional arcs of their own. But to pinpoint one area where this feature falls short is impossible, for this is a title that fails miserably in a variety of areas, with a lacklustre screenplay, poor acting performances and a truly generic narrative – each coming together in a rather unfortunate way to create a slice of contemporary cinema that is far removed from the classic 80s endeavours that Willis, for example, used to adorn.
Willis doesn’t do an awful lot wrong within this title, though you can’t help but question why an actor with such pedigree, particularly in this genre, would put that at stake by making movies of this nature. Suffice to say that had he not starred in Precious Cargo, chances are it wouldn’t have got nearly as big a release as it’s getting – if at all. So, it seems we’re the ones who suffer.