A remake of an Icelandic thriller, it's easy to see why Wahlberg really went after this film. A blue collar family man who was once a top drawer smuggler, it plays to the Bostonian Oscar nominees ostensible strengths; tough, but sensitive when applicable. The overall film is a little disjointed, but generally enjoyable.
Not so long ago Wahlberg's John Bryce and his best friend Chris (the always watchable Foster) were infamous amongst the criminal elite for their smuggling skills. Now turned straight, he's dragged back into it when his dim-witted brother-in-law (Jones) pisses off Giovanni Ribisi's local tough bastard. Forced to repay a debt, John must take on a dangerous job to keep his family safe. While he's off changing his middle name to "danger", revelations occurring at home put the very family he's trying to protect at risk.
It's hard to put Contraband in a box, because it's neither an action film nor really a thriller - but it does have elements of both. Sometimes those elements are slick, if out of place (explosion during a heist in South America), others lack tension (the long plot reveal), but overall it has enough class to ignore its flaws. The casting of Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi certainly helps lend said element of class, as both actors are extremely underrated and immensely watchable.
This is very much Wahlberg's film, and thus his role is naturally the strongest. He has a couple of moments where he gets to be hard and tough and a couple where he's all tender with his missus. Speaking of which, Beckinsale's role is probably the poorest, and the British actress need only really look concerned, then in peril, for the majority of her screen time.
When Wahlberg's character leaves for what really amounts to a subplot, Contraband certainly loses something and never really feels like the same. Sure, he has to go for the plot mechanics to kick in, but it feels like just that - an excuse.
Certainly watchable, and generally fun, it just hinted at something better which is why some might be disappointed.
Review by Mike Sheridan | 09:00 | Monday 12th March 2012 | Movie Review
Absolutely brilliant film .. Its definitely worth seeing. Reminds me of The next 3 days, or Taken loads of action Honestly, I was actually shaking at one point with nerves because I wasn't sure if they would make it or not..Posted 13:45 | Sat 17th Mar 2012
Fantastic film, kept my interest from start to finish - Mark Wahlberg is very easy on the eye ladies ;-)Posted 16:59 | Sat 17th Mar 2012
Contraband is a remake of a 2008 Icelandic thriller called Reykjavik-Rotterdam. Mark Walhlberg has brought the original director onboard to retain its integrity and it's a mostly successful if somewhat morally ambiguous thriller. That old movie cliche, the ex-criminal forced out of retirement to do One Last Job, is dutifully trotted out but the film moves at such a breathless pace that you barely notice. In this case, Wahlberg's smuggler is caught in a tricky situation onboard the ship, while a raving drug dealer (Giovanni Ribisi) keeps a watchful eye on Wahlberg's wife and family at home. Who would have thought that a film about container ships and customs officers could be so exciting? The acting is all uniformly solid, though Ribisi's character seems to have wandered in from The Rum Diary or at least be related to his character in that film. I guess actors are telling the truth when they say that they bring their characters home. All in all, a solid and very enjoyable thriller.Posted 19:17 | Sat 17th Mar 2012
Seen this last night thought it was a very good film well recommendedPosted 17:06 | Fri 23rd Mar 2012
I enjoyed this film which has some great action set pieces. Sure, the plot of a reformed bad guy having to take on one more job isn't exactly original, but it held my interest from start to finish. Given the fact that they're on a container ship for a lot of the film, that's quite an achievement! My main quibble is that Kate Beckinsdale doesn't look as good with blonde hair!Posted 10:44 | Sun 25th Mar 2012
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