Precious Cargo (2016)

After watching Claire Folani kicking ass in Inferno: Skyscraper Escape (and we remember her holding her own alongside Jackie Chan in 2003’s The Medallion), I decided to give another one of her action movies a spin—this one with the added benefit of Bruce Willis. Ah, but the caveat emptors are afoot as this is another one of those films where Willis is barely it. That’s because this show belongs to Mark-Paul Gosselaar—yes, Zack Morris from the Saturday morning TV series Saved by the Bell.

After the manipulative Karen’s (Claire Forlani) contracted diamond heist for her ex-lover Eddie (Bruce Willis), a sociopathic crime boss, goes awry (that’s her story; she ripped him off), he wants her dead. Better yet, he’ll kidnap her and recruit Karen’s ex-partner and lover Jack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), the “Michelangelo of Thieves,” to steal an armored car carrying $30 million in jewels as her ransom. And why would Jack help Karen? Well, she’s pregnant . . . with his child (that’s her story). Who’s screwin’ who here—literally and figuratively: everybody. The double-crosses—amid the blood and bullets—are everywhere.

“Eh, it’s a paycheck.”

As with my review on Line of Duty, I won’t sugar coat: the reviews on this one aren’t great. Does this, like Line of Duty, pushes the limits of Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and Speed inspired-credulity? Oh, hell yes. But again, I say: screw credibility. Enjoy the retro-‘80s/’90s action ride. Relish the smarmy-cheesy one-liners, the over-the-top gun battles, the car explosions, the boat vs. Jet Ski chases, and the beach-front dock shoot out.

Now, would the producers have liked to have secured the services of the Chrises Evans or Pratt for their leading man? Perhaps Zoe Saldana for their leading lady?

Sure they would. What producer wouldn’t?

But I think Gosselaar—who’s more than capable—carries this action film on his shoulders against the resumes of Chris Evans and Chris Pratt with self-confidence. And while the series wasn’t all that great, Gosselaar was very good as the burnt-out professional ballplayer in Fox TV’s short-lived sports drama, Pitch (honestly: he was the best thing in the series), and he’s proven his adult-sized comedic chops in ABC-TV’s currently airing Mixed-ish. While Gosselaar has done a quite a few U.S cable TV movies, he also held his own in his first overseas theatrical film for producers Randall Emmett and George Fulra, 2015’s Heist, a crime drama starring Robert De Niro and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

An Oscar moment? “That’s it! Pack your sh** and get out of my house!”

You’ve seen a few of prolific producer Randall Emmett’s 113-and-climbing resume (his longstanding co-producer is George Furla) in U.S theatres with Bruce Willis’s 16 Blocks (2006), Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man (2006), Al Pacino’s 88 Minutes (2007), Jake Gyllenhall’s End of Watch (2012), and Sylvester Stallone’s Escape Plan (2013) and Escape Plan: The Extractors (2019), and his most recent work on Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman (2019). The rest of Emmett’s films—as with Precious Cargo—make their U.S debuts as direct-to-DVDs or online streams, and appear as theatricals in the overseas Eurasian markets.

Emmett also produced several films in the prolific direct-to-DVD oeuvre of writer-director Steven C. Miller (Arsenal and Line of Duty) with the films Extraction (2015), Marauders (2016), First Kill (2017), and Escape Plan 2: Hades (2018). Emmett even found his way into B&S About Movies’ “Amityville Week” of reviews with Amityville: The Awakening (2017). Again, Emmett is prolific: he has eleven more films in 2020 in various states of filming and pre-post production.

Writer Max Adams is new to the game and building on his promising resume of eight writing credits, which includes Steven C. Miller’s Extraction (starring Bruce Willis; also of First Kill) and the aforementioned Heist. Precious Cargo marks his commendable directing debut. The screenplay was based on his well-received 2008 Florida State University film school short, while the feature-length version of Precious Cargo became a national finalist in the 2010 Script Pipeline screenplay competition. His recent work, the positive-reviewed two-season military drama Six, aired on The History Channel.

Sorry, there are no TubiTV freebies on this one. You can pick up the DVD of Precious Cargo at your local Redbox (or stream it) or you can stream it on Amazon Prime, Google Play, You Tube Movies, and Vudu.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

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