- Running time:
- 110 minutes
- Mark Wahlberg -
- Chris Farraday
- Kate Beckinsale -
- Kate Farraday
- Ben Foster -
- Sebastian Abney
- Giovanni Ribisi -
- Tim Briggs
- Caleb Landry Jones -
Nobody smuggles contraband better than Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), but he’s straightened out and settled in to family life with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and their two sons. When Kate’s little brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a gig for drug dealer Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris is forced back into the criminal underworld to save his brother-in-law’s skin, and protect his family. Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) set up a plan to smuggle counterfeit money from Panama to New Orleans, but the job has dangers of its own.
The buzz: Based on the 2008 Icelandic thriller “Reykjavík-Rotterdam,” “Contraband” is directed by that film’s star and producer, Baltasar Kormákur. His previous English-language films were the barely released “Inhale” and “A Little Trip to Heaven,” making “Contraband”—which stars and is produced by Wahlberg—his first crack at Hollywood.
The verdict: When Wahlberg’s in his action mode (“Max Payne,” “Shooter,” “The Corrupter,” even “Planet of the Apes”) it usually means forgettable filler, and “Contraband” is no exception. Kormákur seems to take this pulpy narrative a little too seriously—coming off overly invested in the cardboard characters and unwisely expecting us to care about them too—leading to a middling mix of drawn-out drama and underwhelming action that’s never very fun or very smart. The supporting cast—which also includes J.K. Simmons, Lukas Haas and Diego Luna—is full of actors going over the top without making much impression, while Wahlberg remains a largely colorless central figure throughout and Beckinsale struggles with a poorly defined role as designated victim (and punching bag for the bad guys). At its best, “Contraband” tries to provide the heist movie thrills of one of Wahlberg’s better vehicles—“The Italian Job”—but it’s simply too bland to get the job done.
Did you know? The former Marky Mark’s not the only Wahlberg in the film’s credits. His brother Robert Wahlberg also has a role in the opening scene involving Andy’s drug smuggling disaster.
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire
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