Contraband

Film, Action and adventure
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 3 out of 5 stars
(4user reviews)
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Mark Wahlberg in Contraband
1/2
Mark Wahlberg in Contraband
2/2
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur’s remake of his own moody heist flick, ‘Reykjavik-Rotterdam’, had a rough ride from US critics earlier this year, but it was a solid hit with audiences. Neither is surprising: ‘Contraband’ is a muscular, old- fashioned honour-among-thieves fairy tale that takes no risks but contains enough plot twists and blue-collar wish fulfilment to guarantee a fun night out.

In his latest shot at working-class-hero status, Mark Wahlberg plays Chris, a smuggler-turned-family man forced to get back in the game when his wayward brother-in-law gets in hock to a gang of dealers led by drawling wigga psychopath Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi, apparently channelling the spirit of George Kennedy). Leaving best pal Sebastian (Ben Foster) in charge of wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and their two small kids, Chris hitches a ride on a cargo ship bound for Panama, accompanied by a motley band of drug-runners.

Though admittedly drowning in Pabst-swilling Springsteen chic and weary one-last-job cliches, ‘Contraband’ is a stylishly directed thriller that benefits from a knotty, unpredictable script and an indisputably great cast. While frontman Wahlberg is suitably terse and brooding as the put-upon hero, Foster, Diego Luna, JK Simmons and especially Ribisi add much-needed spice with a ragged parade of scenery-chewing, scene-stealing supporting turns.

The result is unlikely to linger long in the memory, but it’s enormous fun while it lasts, particularly the central Panama sequences, all vibrant colour and thundering pistol fire. The final act, too, is a real crowd-pleaser, wrapping up a tangle of storylines in unfashionably upbeat, feelgood fashion. So perhaps ‘Contraband’ is crime-by-numbers – but it’s also  honest, unpretentious and highly entertaining.

By: Tom Huddleston

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Release details

Release date: Friday March 16 2012
Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Screenwriter: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Giovanni Ribisi
Kate Beckinsale
Mark Wahlberg