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Archive for the ‘Contraband’ Category

Contraband – review


PhotobucketContraband is the new film from film star and producer Mark Wahlberg.  By now we all know that Wahlberg gets the gold star for turning his mediocre hip hop career into pure movie gold.  When I first saw the preview for the film I thought it was actually the sequel to his sleeper action hit The Italian Job, which has long lingered in development hell.  Unfortunately it is not, and what it really is is a kind of incoherent sloppy mess of a film, with a stellar cast….but it’s still kind of fun in that sloppy kind of way. 

The film is a re-make of a 2008 Icelandic film, Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which actually starred director Baltasar Kormakur.   The film opens with Andy on a shipping boat that is getting searched by border patrol.  Andy happens to be carrying a lot of cocaine on him, and dumps the coke overboard in a panic while the boat is being searched.  Smart move to save your butt, problem is he’s about to get into a world of hurt because the guy he was running the coke for, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), comes after him and beats the living hell out of him, and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t come up with the money to replace the coke.

Andy just happens to be the brother in law of Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg).  Back in the day Farraday was one of the main runners in the shipping game.  He and his friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) used to pull off epic jobs, until they retired a few years back and went legit.  Andy’s sister, and Chris’s wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale), beg Chris to see if he can do anything about the debt.  Chris goes to see Tim Briggs but it seems the game has changed a lot since he left.  Chris is no longer part of that culture.  Tim threatens his entire family if Andy doesn’t come up with the money.  That’s when Chris pulls out his own can of whoop-ass and beats Briggs to a pulp.  He’ll get his money, but he better never threaten his family again.  The only way Chris is going to get the money is to get back into the running game.  He quickly makes some calls and gets a crew together.  The heist this time is a whole lot of counterfeit bills, 10 million to be exact, that are going to picked up in Panama and brought back to the states.

What follows is pretty much your run of the mill heist caper.  The guys on the shipping boat plan how to hide the money, all while trying to seem on the straight and narrow with the rest of the crew on board.  They need to get off the ship, and  they have a limited amount of time to get the bills, and get them back on board while the ship is in port at Panama.  Everything seems lined up perfectly, but of course things go a little haywire and the team has to improvise.  This improvisation gets them in to a hell of a lot of super un-realistic trouble which involves some pretty cool shoot outs and car chases thrown in for fun, because what’s an action film without them.  While this is going on Sebastian is trying to take care of Chris’s family back home because Briggs is hunting them down.

There’s a lot of twists and turns along the way, but they are so outrageous I found myself chuckling and kind of shaking my head in disbelief.  Everyone turns the corner at just the right time and avoids being caught, or narrowly escapes a bullet or being seen.  Everything completely falls in place, which is a cop-out in films like this and strips the intelligence away from a film that could have been thought out a lot better.

That being said the film is still a lot of fun and Wahlberg, Foster, and Ribisi are awesome in it.  Those guys are fantastic actors that know how to light up a screen.  I’d say skip this one in the theater, but stick it in your Netflix or Redbox queue.

Grade: C+