Contraband looked like it could either be an awesome heist film or a vessel for clichés, but luckily it ended up being more of the former. Much of the movie was over the top and unbelievable, but overall it was a fun film that anyone who is a fan of heist or gangster movies will enjoy.
Reformed criminal Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter) got out of “the life” when he married his wife and had kids, but now his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones, X-Men: First Class), owes some bad guys a lot of money because he didn’t fulfill his end of their bargain. Chris must do one more job in Panama in order to pay the guys (including Giovanni Ribisi, The Rum Diary) what Andy owes them; if he’s unable to cough up the money, they will kill Andy and then come after Chris and his family.
The performances in this movie were great in that a look or smirk could be exchanged and the audience would be able to tell what was being conveyed. In one scene, Andy’s wife (Kate Beckinsale, Everybody’s Fine) says that the bad guys won’t kill him, and we see Chris (Wahlberg) kind of raise an eyebrow and look at her, as if to say “Yeah, they will.” Contraband also has a great cast of supporting characters, including Ben Foster (The Mechanic) as a former associate of Chris’s; Diego Luna (Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) as one of the Panamanian gangsters; and J.K. Simmons (The Music Never Stopped) as the captain of the boat that Chris uses to smuggle the “funny money” back from Panama. Simmons, especially, gives a pitch-perfect performance here, and Walhberg’s is decent as well.
Yes, see this film, but be aware it’s rated “R” for a reason (mostly language). Contraband is not a film that will make you muse about it hours or days after viewing, but it had a lot of good twists that will keep you on your toes throughout. One of the funniest lines is when Walhberg’s brother-in-law sees him stripping off wads of bills hidden under his shirt when they arrive in their ship cabin, and he says to him something like “Don’t say you don’t enjoy this,” to which Wahlberg replies “I love it, but don’t tell your sister.” Walhberg got out of “the life” so that he and his family could go “legit,” but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t enjoy the thrill of the game, and the audience is able to experience some of those thrills in Contraband.
Contraband is in theaters now, and is rated R with a runtime of 110 minutes.
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5