Precious Cargo (2016)

(Video on Demand, July 2016) It’s been increasingly difficult not to notice that Bruce Willis shows up in a lot of straight-to-video movies lately. He usually shows up playing the chief bad guy, mumbles aimlessly for a few scenes, then is dispatched by the hero and goes back home to collect what I presume must be a substantial and much-needed paycheck. His performance in Precious Cargo is up to his newest standards. Fortunately, he’s only a small part of a film that focuses on a professional thief (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, wisecracking merrily) who gets recruited by an ex-lover (Claire Forlani, who seems to have belatedly gotten Angelina Jolie’s looks from non-natural means) to get herself out of some trouble. For a low-budget film (and the key to appreciating Precious Cargo is half in remembering the film’s limited means), Precious Cargo does a few things well: there are a few good action highlights (including a boat chase that looks as if it cost half the film’s budget), the characterization and wisecracking elevates the film from many other similar thrillers, and for all of its sins, it doesn’t try to be dour or downbeat. As the ending plays, everything is fine and thieves get their money. Roll the credits, don’t expect much more and the result is just good enough to warrant a viewing when you’re all out of other options. I’ve seen worse.

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