{2jtab: Movie Review}

Contraband - Movie Review


<div style="float:left">
<script type="text/javascript"><!--
google_ad_client = "pub-9764823118029583";
/* 125x125, created 12/10/07 */
google_ad_slot = "8167036710";
google_ad_width = 125;
google_ad_height = 125;
<script type="text/javascript"

2 stars

There are two trains of thought barreling toward each other when it comes to Contraband and both share the same track.  One train speeds on a course that suggests actor Mark Wahlberg has outgrown this one-more-big-time-thrill-and-I’m-out-type flick and the other runs on pure January juice (January being the month where movies go to die).  Both are right-headed in their course, but somehow this eminent head-on collision just isn’t that exciting…

This beer-and-biceps flick is essentially a remake of the 2009 film Reykjavík-Rotterdam, one of the biggest-budgeted Icelandic flicks to come about in a long time and an entirely more interesting affair.  Blame script noodler Aaron Guzikowski who made this remake as boldly bland as they come and reduced its dynamics to mere phantomime.  Directed by Baltasar Kormákur (who starred in and produced the original), Contraband circulates its counterfeit tale around the life of long-retired criminal Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) and the fated forces that work to get him back in the game for one more score.

Anchored by brother-in-law Andy’s (Caleb Landry Jones) screwed up drug dealing, crime boss Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) saddles a debt owed on Farraway, his wife (Kate Beckinsale), his kids and his friend (Ben Foster) after Andy dumps a load of cocaine into the ocean.  Without much of a choice, Farraway finds himself running contraband to pay off the debt.

Yes, the set-up is as tired as three-legged dog and, quite honestly, even the local color of the city of New Orleans feels a bit long in the tooth.  The actors feel the heat – except for Beckinsale who has nothing to do except receive a round of beatings - and play on their southern drawls, but outside of solid performances from J.K. Simmons and Foster, there’s no real tension in what they are doing and no real authenticity to the Han “Even I get boarded sometimes” Solo shenanigans.

Soon, everything about Contraband merges into what amounts to as your basic made-for-television heist flick.  Here’s an explosion.  There’s an explosion and here, toward the end, is your basic beefy guy action beats.  At times, director Kormákur attempts to inject a bit of humor into the storyline in a transparent effort to score some Ocean’s Eleven sleek and chic brownie points, but he fails to land the energy and charisma as none of these “good guy” characters are really all that interesting.

Everything is timed to the tick-tick-tick of a set clock and leaves little to inspiration.  Ribisi, who seriously needs more work, entertains the dry spells with little on the page and, as wild as he is to watch, his (over)acting is perfectly at home inside the rusted mechanics of Contraband.  At least he gets it, right?  When everything is squeaky surface on the factory floor, one should try to have a little fun.

And so we lift our Shiner Bock high and root, root, root for greasy bad guy.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Contraband - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use.
: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Mark Wahlberg; Ben Foster; Robert Wahlberg; Lukas Haas; Kate Beckinsale
Genre: Action | Crime | Drama | Thriller
Tagline: What would you hide to protect your family?
Memorable Movie Quote: "You were the best of the best."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date: January 13, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 24, 2012

Synopsis: Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best--running contraband--to settle Andy's debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster), to head to Panama and return with millions in counterfeit bills.

Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash, Chris must use his rusty skills to successfully navigate a treacherous criminal network of brutal drug lords, cops and hit men before his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and sons become their target.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 24, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; DVD copy; Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live; D-Box; Mobile features



  • With producer/director Baltasar Kormákur and co-producer Evan Hayes

Special Features:

The Special Features are entertaining, light-hearted and simply fun. They are as follows:

  • U-Control Picture-in-Picture
  • Under the Radar: The Making of Contraband
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Reality Factor: The Stunts and Action of Contraband

{2jtab: Trailer}