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DVD Review: Freight

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Freight is a film from a genre by now becoming very familiar to me. The “independent British film,” showcasing the ‘gritty underside’ of Britain includes films like Kidulthood and its sequel Adulthood, the rather awful looking Shank, as well as the little-remembered film from 2002, Pure,  notable for being one of the first films to star Keira Knightley.

Freight itself is about the trafficking of foreign women to fuel the sex trade in Britain. The women come over here with their partners, hoping to find a better life in the U.K, but when they get here they are snatched by Eastern European criminals and forced to become part of the sex trade while their husbands are forced to fight for their freedom. There’s an interesting quote from the press release stating that the film is “hailed as Britain’s answer to Taken“. This is interesting because it’s basically a remake of Taken (if you look at it in broad strokes and ignore the name changes of the characters). 

Billy Murray (for British readers, “him of the injury lawyers for you adverts” and for Americans “‘ere, that’s Captain Price from Call Of Duty!”) plays the Liam Neeson-alike, Gabe Taylor. Taylor’s daughter gets kidnapped by the gangsters mentioned above after they cross each other. The villain of the piece is played by Danny Midwinter, who makes a good villain and helps form part of the sequel hook at the end.  

I should note that parts of the film made me a bit uncomfortable watching them, such as a part in which a small girl is nearly sold to a paedophile and the women in skimpy clothing are crying as they’re being forced to dance. No doubt this was the intention and it was making some point about the sexualisation of our society. Or something to that effect. 

The DVD special features are more extensive than I’ve seen for a while. It has an audio commentary (most of the time these are not very informative so I tend not to listen to them), but the real meat of the DVD is the seven cast interviews (from which I found out that one of the henchmen played the hunchback in 300, which I never would’ve guessed just by looking at him) and the 13 featurettes, which talk about the film’s location (set and filmed entirely within Yorkshire, a county that I had rather shamelessly thought of as being entirely full of cricketers and the cast of Last Of The Summer Wine) and the subject matter of the film. All in all, there’s more than an hour and a half worth of extra footage here.

The film itself ends with several title cards laying out facts about the sex trade, similar to the title cards that accompany very special episodes of certain television shows (you know what I mean; they typically feature a number and a voiceover saying “if you or someone you know have been affected by any of the issues in tonight’s programme…”). 

Freight features decent performances and a surprising amount of special features (especially considering that apparently the BBFC charges by the minute for footage that has been rated). The political messages (lots of characters insist that “this country’s fucked up” and state that ‘they’ are “coming over here and taking our jobs”, a familiar rallying cry for racists) can get a bit in your face and are rather unsubtle at times but otherwise, this film is well worth a watch. 

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About Scott Varnham