January 20, 2012


Grade: C –
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale and Giovanni Ribisi
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.

Although Contraband busies itself with one plot turn after another, there’s precious little that doesn’t feel lifted from the One Last Job™ blueprint.

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is an ex-smuggler forced back into the game after his simpleton brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) becomes indebted to a gonzo drug runner (Giovanni Ribisi). Chris won’t traffic dope, but he’ll all too happily sneak millions in funny money from Panama to New Orleans, flashing a sham morality belied by the reality that counterfeiting alone can land you in federal prison for up to 25 years. Chris leaves his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids back in the Big Easy under the care of best bud Sebastian, whose duplicity seems foregone since he’s played by Ben Foster.

Director Baltasar Kormákur – star of the Icelandic original – cribs from the Joe Carnahan guide on filmmaking, choosing a jittery camera, washed-out canvas and copious forced F-bombs over actual narrative complexity. There’s passing fancy in keeping track of Chris’ smuggling machinations, even if Kormákur’s execution utterly disregards any concept of time and space. This generic genre picture is the sort of movie Redbox was invented for.

Neil Morris

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