Saturday, January 14, 2012

Contraband - Movie Review


Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, JK Simmons, Diego Luna and David O'Hara.
Directed by Baltasar Kormakur.

Mark Wahlberg is cool. He just is. He can do your art-house flicks (I Heart Huckabees), your comedies (The Other Guys), your Best Pictures (The Departed), and then he's an action star. His action movies serve as a reminder that Jason Statham could do better.

Wahlberg in action mode isn't much different than Eastwood in the 1980's or Bruce Willis in the 1990's. When I watch movies like this, I always have John Malkovich in True West come to mind. "It's not a film, it's a moo-vie."

Here he's Chris Farraday, former smuggler gone legit, with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids. When Kate's little brother Andy has a job go bad (throwing some drugs in the ocean when customs boards), he's threatened with his life unless he pays the amount the score was expected to bring - $700,000.

Chris tries to appeal to his boss, a little psycho named Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi, in Bruckheimer villain mode), but Briggs wants the full amount and threatens to kill Chris and Kate and their kids as well unless he gets his money. So Chris comes out of retirement for one last job - smuggling counterfeit money from Panama.

The movies goes back and forth from hard-hitting action drama to light-hearted heist flick. Of course Chris's best-laid plans fall apart in Panama. If it all went smooth we'd have a dull 60-minute movie.

This is based on the 2008 Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam. The producer and star of that movie, Baltasar Kormakur, serves as director here, and he has a sleekness to his style. Reminded me of the Scott brothers at times.

(P.S. My wife's biggest complaint? Wahlberg never takes his shirt all the way off.)

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