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Contraband - Film Review

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by Sean (subscribe)
I'm a spottily employed journalist with a love of books and "genre" movies living in Brisbane. I have no blog as it's much too self-aggrandising.
Contraband Poster
Mark Wahlberg stars in Contraband.

Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday in this action/thriller/caper about a retired master smuggler who, due to unavoidable circumstances, must make one last run.

Chris leads a quiet but fulfilled life. He is married to his beautiful wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale Underworld), has two strapping young sons and a quietly successful home security business.

That all changes when Kate's younger brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones X-Men: First Class) is severely beaten and threatened with death after dumping several packages of cocaine into the sea in a smuggling run gone bad. If he doesn't come up with the money, scumbag drug dealer Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi The Rum Diary) is going to kill him and then come to Chris's door looking to be paid.

So Chris goes back into the game for one last run to save Andy's life.

Kate Beckinsale and Mark Wahlberg in a scene from the film.

Guess what? This ain't original. It's "Just when I thought I got out, they pull me back in," territory but despite that, it's certainly not the worst thing you could take yourself to see at the moment. This is popcorn fare pure and simple.

Obviously Chris's final run is anything but plain sailing. It wouldn't be much of a movie if the plot consisted of these elements: Chris needs money, Chris devises a plan, Chris executes plan with help of loyal sidekicks, Chris sells smuggled material and makes a tidy profit but I just kept wondering if this guy was ever going to catch a break.

Absolutely nothing goes right which leads to shootouts, crashes, car chases and all sorts of over the top action fare. There's also a fairly convoluted sub-plot involving Chris's best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster X-Men III, 30 Days of Night) who may have designs on Kate.

The film suffers from too many plots and sub-plots going on. I understand it gives characters motivation for their actions but in the end, it ends up being a bit of a jumbled mess.

All the actors do a fine job in their respective roles. Wahlberg is his typical calm, steely self which works for this role as a mastermind who also doesn't mind getting down and dirty with some hand to hand combat. Kate Beckinsale is great as the harried wife trying to keep her family alive and together in the face of Ribisi's Biggs and his relentless malevolence.

One of the standouts here is Giovanni Ribisi as the heavily tattooed dealer Tim Briggs. Ribisi is a master of non-verbal expression. When Tim Briggs looks at someone, you see the possibilities for violence flitting by in the back of his eyes; violence which is often completely brutal and shockingly final. The other standout is Caleb Landry Jones, who as Andy has this constant look of fear in his eyes, he's caught in a very dangerous situation and is scared witless of the consequences for himself and his family if he doesn't successfully extricate himself from this mess.

Giovanni Ribisi is a standout as the malevolent drug dealer Tim Briggs

Contraband has the requisite number of explosions, gunshots and crashes to fulfil most viewers' expectations at to what a movie of this genre should be and the actors don't seem to be sleepwalking through their lines but all in all, it's a pretty forgettable film.

As I said before, popcorn fare all the way.

I'd recommend it on a cheap Tuesday but probably not full-price Friday.

Theatrical Trailer
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Why? Mark Wahlberg doing what he does best.
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