Cinema Review: Contraband

Last of the tobacco

DIR: Baltasar Kormákur • WRI: Aaron Guzikowski • PRO: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg • DOP: Barry Ackroyd • ED: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir • DES: Tony Fanning • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster

Contraband is a remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which starred Baltasar Kormákur. This time the actor of the 2008 film becomes the director of this 2012 film, and while he shows some visual flair behind the camera; it is only in an effort to frantically apply polish to a steaming Hollywood turd.

This is a slovenly pieced-together, lazy movie of tiresome cliches, which rehashes that old chestnut of ‘one last job’. The film’s star, Mark Wahlberg, epitomizes the laziness of the whole endeavor sleeprunning and toughguying his way through the film in a jockstrap performance of overwrought machismo.

Wahlberg plays Chris, an ex-smuggler turned honest, who’s just trying to make a decent living for his wife and children. But goddammit the world won’t let him – his wife’s pesky brother, Andy, has got himself involved with some bad boys in the smuggling business and owes them a load of cash; so Mark must take on ‘one last job’ to save the lives of his bother-in-law, plus his own wife and their children, whose lives are now in danger. He puts together a team and heads off to Panama to recreate his money-yielding smuggling days. Unfortunately, things don’t go smoothly and bad stuff happens that Chris must overcome. Fortunately, cockamamie coincidences and ludicrous occurrences are on his side.

The whole thing whizzes along in a gargantuan effort to trick your jaw against dropping to the floor as each scene lays on one ridiculous scenario after another, populated by a cadaver of characters that bring no relief from the film’s outrageous sense of taking itself so seriously in the face of such far-fetched farce. The only thing you’ll come out of this film the better for is knowing that when Mark Wahlberg says to you something like, ‘Don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine’, that’s a cue to look at your watch, feign an important meeting, and get the feck out of dodge immediately.

Minus the gloss, this is nothing more than straight-to-DVD fare.

Steven Galvin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Contraband is released on 16th March 2012

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