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Precious Cargo Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Precious Cargo (2016) movie poster Precious Cargo

Theatrical Release: April 22, 2016 / Running Time: 90 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Max Adams / Writers: Max Adams, Paul Seetachitt

Cast: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Jack), Bruce Willis (Eddie Filosa), Claire Forlani (Karen Colson), Daniel Bernhardt (Simon), Nick Leob (Andrew Herzberg), John Brotherton (Nicholas Sepher), Lydia Hull (Jenna Sepher), Sammi Barber (Apsara), Tyler Jon Olson (Lucas), Jenna Kelly (Logan)

Buy Precious Cargo from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD DVD + Digital Instant Video

Everyone knows a teen heartthrob's stardom is short-lived...but what if it's not? Leonardo DiCaprio was introduced as that and worked his way to becoming one of the most respected actors in the world. Sure, he's an exception and there are dozens of forgotten has-beens who once adorned teen mags
for every story like his. Somewhere in between the unemployable former child actors and Leo is Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who will forever be known first and foremost as Zack Morris, the time-stopping bleached blonde protagonist of the iconic NBC sitcom "Saved by the Bell."

All the fame and death rumors that came from that long-syndicated series landed him a single leading role in a theatrical film, MTV's 1998 college comedy Dead Man on Campus, years after his era of "Saved" ended. But Gosselaar has kept at it, graduating to "NYPD Blue" and getting to star in a number of TV series, most recently TNT's four-season hour-long legal dramedy "Franklin & Bash." Though many actors would be content to enjoy small screen stardom, Gosselaar continues to be offered and accept some feature film roles as well. Last year's Heist let him share the screen with the legendary Robert De Niro in very limited theatrical release. In 2016, Gosselaar could be seen as solo leading man, taking top billing over Bruce Willis in the crime action drama Precious Cargo. Okay, so they're not The Wolf of Wall Street and The Revenant, but they are movies that are technically released to theaters and certainly available to rent and own on a variety of formats including the Blu-ray + Digital HD edition reviewed here.

Jack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) navigates a speedboat to dodge armed criminals on jet skis and in boats in "Precious Cargo."

Directed by Heist screenwriter Max Adams, who co-adapts his student short film with Paul Seetachitt, Precious opens with Jack (Gosselaar) taking golf drives off a pier while waiting for a business meeting. He's selling weapons to some intimidating criminal types, who are trying to change the terms of the deal. His life appears to be endangered, but this isn't Jack's first swindle. He emerges just fine, with both cash and merchandise in hand. Saving his life for the umpteenth time is Logan (Jenna Kelly), his snarky but loyal barely adult sniper.

Logan wants Jack to get over his ex-girlfriend Karen (Claire Forlani, remember her?), which he is trying to do by dating Jenna (Lydia Hull), a kindly veterinarian who thinks Logan's dog is his and has no idea what he does for a living. She soon finds out, when Karen shows up pregnant with Jack's child and the next thing you know, Jack and his former and present ladies are dodging bullets in a boat and jet ski chase along the river.

Karen owes $8 million to Eddie (Willis), a monologuing kingpin of sorts. She has a job she needs Jack to perform, a heist of $30 million worth of gems. They hatch an elaborate plan they hardly share with us in advance, with Jack recruiting two unpredictable accomplices in the alcoholic Army vet Andrew (Nick Loeb) and his friend Nicholas (John Brotherton), half of a married couple that is perpetually bickering at the beach bar they run. This is comedy, I guess.

Bruce Willis has a chuckle alongside Claire Forlani, perhaps recalling how much kinder the late 1990s were to both of them.

Naturally, there are twists and surprises, which endanger our good bad guys and tilt the odds in the favor of the bad bad guy, Eddie, and his crew. There is so much shooting (and missing) at one another. Adams and Seetachitt think they have more of a knack for colorful dialogue than they do, as they have their characters speak like a Tarantino-worshipping film student might.
There is never any emotional attachment to any of the characters and we never care if Jack ends up with Karen or the less prominent vet. The biggest burst of creativity may be in the stylish opening credits, which look like post-movie ones that have been moved up for people to actually see.

What does that leave us caring about? I guess there is the fact that Gosselaar surprisingly looks completely comfortable in a lead role that might have gone to someone like Nicolas Cage or Steven Seagal or Scott Adkins (Who? Look him up!) Was it Benjamin Franklin or Doc Brown who said "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." Well, Gosselaar has apparently put his mind to it to being an action star, a feat he accomplishes in a film of little grace and intrigue. He's the best thing about Precious Cargo and not because his presence reminds you of the joy that "Saved by the Bell" used to bring you (there's nothing of Zack Morris to this Jack guy). Surely, this film and his nearly 30 years of public familiarity could at least land him more jobs in similar action movies, should he want them. Or maybe he can even set his sights higher upon a movie that doesn't suck.

Lionsgate released Precious Cargo on Blu-ray and DVD this week, each equipped with a digital copy in a comparable definition.

Precious Cargo: Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($19.98 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Precious Cargo obviously does not have a high budget by Hollywood's standards (though IMDb's $10.5 estimate might exceed your expectations) and yet that obviously doesn't keep us from getting a stellar Blu-ray feature presentation. The sharp and vibrant 2.40:1 picture is without faults and the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is suitably engaging and well-mixed.

Jenna Kelly discusses what is only her second film credit in "Making 'Precious Cargo'" and her separate interview. "Precious Cargo" is full of gunfire, something the Blu-ray menu rightfully reflects.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin with "Making Precious Cargo" (14:37), a standard featurette serving up the usual mix of film clips and talking heads.

"Cast/Crew Interviews" (43:54) gives us more of the sitdowns that feature in the featurette, granting us access to the thoughts of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Claire Forlani, Jenna Kelly,
writer-director Max Adams, co-writer Paul Seetachitt, and producer Scott Mann (who directed the aforementioned Heist). Though few will ever watch these, there are some telling bits explaining how Adams' thesis film was relocated from Thailand to Mississippi and how Mann sat in a hot "car park" glued to the greatest script he's ever read.

The extras conclude with Precious Cargo's own trailer (2:12), a welcome inclusion that's far from a given on a Lionsgate disc.

The disc opens with trailers for Extraction, Heist, Misconduct, Exposed, and American Heist. The same 5 full trailers are repeated when selecting the menu's "Also from Lionsgate" listing.

The scored menu plays clips behind a rotation of the cover's two black and white star shots. The Blu-ray supports bookmarking and also resumes unfinished playback.

A single-sided insert supplying your Digital HD with UltraViolet code accompanies the full-color disc in an eco-friendly keepcase that's topped by an embossed slipcover.

No, that's not Al Pacino in "Heat"...it's Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) making a convincing badass in "Precious Cargo."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Precious Cargo is just about what you'd expect: a trashy, essentially direct-to-video action B-movie that discourages thinking and gives back little in return for your 90 minutes. The only thing really distinguishing this from other low-budget, low-class action flicks is that this one stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who reveals himself to be far better suited to badass leading man duties than you'd expect. Nonetheless, even diehard "Saved by the Bell" fans probably won't care enough to give this movie a look.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray looks great and certainly delivers extras in sufficient quantity. But unless you're the type of person who enjoys discovering mindless, obscure thrills in Redbox, you probably are okay passing on this.

Buy Precious Cargo from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD + Digital / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Written by Max Adams and Starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Heist
Mark-Paul Gosselaar: Raising the Bar: The Complete First Season Commander in Chief: Part 1
Bruce Willis: A Good Day to Die Hard Looper Lay the Favorite Surrogates Blind Date G.I. Joe: Retaliation Armageddon
New to Disc: Eye in the Sky The Brothers Grimsby Knight of Cups Midnight Special

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Reviewed June 30, 2016.



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