Mania Grade: C-
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- Rated: R
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi
- Writer: Aaron Guzikowski (screenplay)
- Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur
- Distributor: Universal Home Entertainment
- Original Year of Release: 2012
- Extras: See Below
Contraband Blu-Ray Review
Recycled Action film doesn’t hold your interest
By Tim Janson
April 24, 2012
Mark Wahlberg in Contraband
© Universal Home Entertainment 2012
Mark Wahlberg is churning out action films faster than a rabbit in heat and his latest to hit the home video market is Contraband. Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, an ex-smuggler who has retired from the business and now runs a home alarm installation business in New Orleans. His good-for-nothing kid brother in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) has to dump a load of cocaine he was trying to smuggle thus running afoul of a ruthless gangster played by Giovanni Ribisi. In order to save Andy and his own family including wife Kate (Beckinsale), Chris has to line up a crew of his old buddies to make one last smuggling run aboard a freighter to bring in $10 million dollars in counterfeit bills. The film is a remake of the 2008 Icelandic film which starred Baltasar Kormákur who is the director of this American version.
Now if the plot to Contraband sounds a bit familiar, you’re right. Back in 2000 it was called Gone in Sixty Seconds and starred Nicolas Cage (who is churning out action films even faster than Wahlberg). Cage starred as a former car thief who has got out of the business but who has to put together a group of his old friends to steal a horde of cars to save his kid brother from a gangster. Oddly enough, it was Ribisi who played the kid brother in that film. I mean honestly, how low have we sunk that we are now regurgitating old Nic Cage films? If anyone remakes Snake Eyes the apocalypse is truly upon us.
The middle of the film consists of Chris and his buddies including Danny (Lukas Haas) aboard the massive freighter, sneaking around, and avoiding the suspicions of the irritable Captain Camp (J.K. Simmons). Back home, Chris’ best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) is looking after his family. I don’t want to play spoiler here so you might want to skip ahead to the next paragraph. But if I have a pet peeve about movies it’s seeing the same actor play the same role in different films. And for Foster, he always seems to be playing a bit of a slime ball role and I will leave it at that.
The action plods along until they finally reach Panama. Things pick-up a bit here as they meet with the Panamanian gang leader to procure the money but even then the action is reduced down to stock shootouts and car chases. Chris proves to be just way too damn clever for everyone including the gangsters, the ship’s captain, and the U.S. Border Patrol agents and you wonder why he would ever get out of the smuggling business in the first place. This is underscored by a completely idiotic, feel good ending where the smugglers can all retire to an island paradise thanks to their stolen booty.
What looks like a fine cast on paper is wasted by a bad and boring story that drags on far too long. Plot twists abound that only muddy up the waters and yet there’s little of the same attention paid to developing the characters. There’s more to the Wahlberg-Nic Cage connection than just this film. Like Cage, Wahlberg has starred in some outstanding films: The Italian Job, Invincible, The Departed, The Fighter…but for every one of these there is a garbage film like Planet of the Apes, Max Payne, or The Other Guys to balance things out. Contraband definitely fits into the latter category. Careful Mr. Wahlberg…you’re at the Nic Cage crossroads!
Audio Commentary with Director Baltasar Kormákur and Producer Evan Hayes
U-Control Picture-in-Picture track – View the movie with picture-in-picture extras including commentary, interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.
Under the Radar: The Making of Contraband (17:02) – Pretty boring featurette with lots of interviews with the actors raving about Director Baltasar Kormákur. Not much insight.
Reality Factor: The Stunts and Action of Contraband (7:56/) – A look at the stunts in the films action sequences.
Deleted scenes (6:24)