Contraband wants to be a down and dirty B-movie extravaganza while also having a happy ending, but you can’t have it both ways. Mark Wahlberg stars as Chris Farraday an independent security contractor with a shady past, and who better to install a home alarm system than someone who knows the many ways a person could break into a residence.
When Farraday’s brother-in-law runs afoul of a local drug dealer Farraday must return to his smuggling ways of old to raise money. Kate Beckinsale plays Wahlberg’s wife but she’s ill suited as a tattooed mother playing house in a den of wolves. Giovanni Ribisi has a coonass accent in keeping with Contraband’s New Orleans locale. Ben Foster, Diego Luna, J.K. Simmons and David O’Hara also co-star.
Contraband occasionally rises above its cliché moments like an armored car heist involving a Jackson Pollock painting in Panama that erupts into a massive gun battle. But there’re too many moments where the film goes from A to C and leaves out B. It would’ve added to Contraband’s credibility if we actually saw how Wahlberg achieved some of the seemingly impossible sleights of hand (with $15-million of counterfeit bills) during his smuggling operation; or if he got rid of his troublemaker brother-in-law on general principle; or if the film ended in a believable manner. As it is Contraband, a remake of an Icelandic film (Reykjavik-Rotterdam), does a great job of establishing the working milieu of loading docks, cargo ship etiquette and industrial labor.
– Michael Bergeron