By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 7 out of 10
You ever have one of those weeks (or heaven forbid longer) where just when you think things can’t get any worse they do? Mark Wahlberg’s Chris Farraday, the main protagonist in “Contraband,” sure has.
Things go from bad to worse for Farraday and his family during the two-hour film and things will never be the same for the Farraday family.
For the audience member, however, the film will be forgotten soon after leaving the theater. “Contraband” is by no means terrible, but it has that “been there, done that” feeling and, as a result, won’t stick with the viewers.
The movie is about Chris, a former smuggler who has abandoned a life of crime for the sake of his wife Kate Farraday (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids. Instead of smuggling, Chris now sets up alarm systems for houses. His former partner in crime Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster) has also left the criminal lifestyle to run his own construction business.
Unfortunately for Chris, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) attempts to smuggle in some drugs for Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi in a scene-stealing role). Things go wrong for Andy when Customs boards the ship he is trying to smuggle the drugs on and Andy is forced to dump the drugs into the water before he is caught.
Obviously that does not sit well with Briggs and he tells Andy that if he doesn’t get $700,000 for the dumped “goods” he will kill him.
This is where the story starts to become hackneyed. Chris and Sebastian, who were the kings of smuggling, are forced to re-enter the smuggling game to save Andy and Chris’ family. Chris and Sebastian set up a deal in Panama to get millions of dollars in counterfeit bills and trade them for everyone’s safety.
As I said above, things are already pretty bad for Chris, but that is only the beginning. After he boards the ship that he is set up on with a crew of fellow smugglers, Captain Camp recognizes Chris and quickly demotes him to rug-cleaning duty. His week just got a little worse.
On the way to Panama, Briggs and his crew break into Farraday’s house and put the scare to Kate and the two kids by firing a few shots into the couch. Seeing as Chris is on a ship to Panama, he can’t do anything, so he tells his family to get ahold of Sebastian who offers his house to them until Chris returns.
Things continue to get worse for Chris as his plan to get the counterfeit money crumbles around him and he is even forced to help rob an armored vehicle. As bad as everything has been for Chris, the “twist” to the story is one of the worst things that can happen to a person, but I won’t spoil it for you.
What I will spoil for you is that if you are a fan of movies, you will most likely figure out the big twist and pretty much everything else about the movie well before it happens.
Director Baltasar Kormakur plays things by the books and, as a result, there is nothing about “Contraband” that really distinguishes itself from other movies. There is very little action and Beckinsale had virtually no part to play.
My only other complaint with the film is the use of close-ups by Kormakur. I have never watched any of his previous films, so maybe this is one of his calling cards, but his extreme close-ups were a bit unnerving and seemed to be out of focus. Maybe the director chose to do that to flesh out his characters and make them more real, but considering how the rest of the movie is shot, it didn’t fit or work.
Despite those shortcomings, though, “Contraband” is passable and worth a single viewing if you are a Wahlberg fan.