Similarly, Simone Landers, the actress who plays Andy's eventual Aboriginal traveling companion Thoomi, manages to keep the story grounded with a subtle, winning performance. The friendship that emerges between her and Andy, one that grows out of being chained together by a lunatic isolationist, becomes the heart of the story almost by default: There's not that much going on in the margins. Ramke and Howling often pull the camera back to emphasize the desolate beauty of the land, evoking the dusty imagery of classic survival narratives like Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout but not exactly capturing the same lyrical quality. The land is barren. Does the story have to be?
As it closes in on an unavoidably bleak ending, Cargo fails to generate much suspense, choosing mood and ambiance over bullet-ridden shootouts and violent beheadings. The restraint is admirable and some will likely find the final images moving, but it's also dull. As a movie about parental anxiety and familial sacrifice, it could stand to take a page from John Krasinski's more high-octane thriller A Quiet Place, which needles its audience with precision and rushes from one set-piece to the next. Cargo is too content to stroll through the wilderness. Sometimes it's better to start running -- no matter how fast the zombies are.