Movie Review: Contraband
- Article by Michael Benson
- January 20, 2012
Directed By: Baltasar Kormakur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Risibi, Ben Foster
Mark Wahlberg's latest picture, Contraband, was released in theaters Friday, January 13th. Spooky! Actually, the movie wasn't scary at all. That was a lie...Sorry. Contraband did, however, offer some pretty solid suspense and even a bit of imagination. I know, not something one could come to expect from a typical Marky Mark flick.
Your loyal viewer went into this movie with the understanding that it wasn't going to be a life-changing experience, which abandoned any potential disappointment. Instead, we went in knowing it would probably be stupid, while hoping for the best. The acting wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad. The plot was fairly predictable up until the end, when Wahlberg's brilliant smuggling plan unfolds, reminding one of the end of Ocean's Eleven. All in all, it’s what one can expect, and there’s something satisfying about a movie that manages to be formulaic but still moderately entertaining, so when a sprinkle of creativity was added to Contraband’s ending, it made me forget the Wahlberg failure The Happening ever happened.
Basically, Contraband's plot follows a similar path as the Nic Cage smash Gone in 60 Seconds, except instead of a cool, cunning Nic Cage, we were given a responsible badass in Mark Wahlberg. Also, instead of stealing cars, Mark puts a team together to smuggle $20 million in counterfeit cash and a few pounds of nose candy. Wahlberg plays an ex-smuggler whose involvement in illegal activities had to abruptly stop one day because he had a wife and two kids, but he gets sucked back into the game when his wife's brother gets involved with the wrong people and messes up a smuggling job. Mark has to get him out of the jam by doing one last run.
Along with Wahlberg, Contraband's cast includes stars like Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, and Giovanni Risibi. You may know Risibi from The Rum Diary and Avatar. He plays the bad guy in Contraband, but he also played Nic Cage's brother in Gone in 60 Seconds. I see a pattern here and can guess that Caleb Landry Jones, the brother-in-law in Contraband will be the bad guy in a movie in twelve years called Dirty Laundry. It will be about a kid who fudges up laundering money and needs to be helped by his step-brother who laundered money his entire life but had to stop because he adopted an Asian kid. Mark my words, it will happen!
If anything, there’s a strong parallel between Mark Wahlberg and his newest flick. Both are relatively safe (self-serious, clean cut white male starring in a standard action movie, ya don’t say?!) entities that don’t even manage to stand out in their own genre. Wahlberg’s never going to win an Oscar, neither will Contraband, but both are necessary for filling a void in a market. The world needs action movies where guys run and things explode, and there’s only so many Tom Cruises to go around. There isn't too much more to say about Contraband. It’s a decent movie that will inevitably play on a loop on TNT in like five years. What else could a hungover college student ask for on a Sunday?