Cargo, the latest entry in the emergent sex-slavery subgenre, posits forced prostitution as a model of global capitalism. The trade is run by skeezy Russians, involves kidnapped Eastern European women as its victims and employs Mexicans and Egyptians to keep the business humming. As if to drive home the world-is-flat point, Cargos story involves the crossing of several borders and some odd interactions between foreigners and white Americans of the heartland, which must be traversed to deliver the product to its end destination. Yet Yan Vizinbergs film, most of which involves the transfer of a Russian sex slave, Natasha (Natasha Rinis), from Texas to Brooklyn by an Egyptian driver (Sayed Badreya), is less concerned with the implications of globalization than with staging a slow-burn drama that plays out as both cruelly brutal and crudely obvious. After heaping indignity after indignity on newly enslaved Natasha (we watch her get thrown down a flight of stairs and piss in the back of a van), the film eases up and focuses on her efforts to win over the driver, a devout Muslim. With the certainty of bad melodrama, Cargo moves gradually into superficial moral complexity, an inevitable display of heroics, and the perfunctory title card ensuring us that sex slavery is indeed a real-life problem.
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