Film & TV

Film Review: Contraband

Film reviewed by Glam Adelaide contributor, Tony Clifton

If you’re thinking of going to watch CONTRABAND be prepared to strap yourself in, hold onto your seat for a twisting, turning and sometimes confusing ride through the dark world of post-9/11 high-stakes smuggling on the high seas.

Mark Wahlberg leads the cast as Chris Faraday, a retired 2nd generation smuggling maestro leading the quiet suburban life in New Orleans with the wife and 2 kids running his own company and minding his own business. Unbeknownst to him his wife’s younger brother Andy (played by the drummer and vocalist for the psychedelic rock band’ Robert Jones’ – Caleb Landry Jones) tried to make his start in the smuggling business but, and it’s a big but, things go awry his drug importation plan is foiled by the heightened security surrounding US ports. His cargo jettisoned he finds he still has a debt to the organiser of this venture with no way of repaying this debt he turns to his reluctant brother for help.

What appears to be a simple solution – doing one last ‘run’ down to Panama to collect some counterfeit cash, becomes increasingly more complicated and more dangerous. As the plan evolves Faraday is forced to sign on to the ship his father once used run by Captain Camp, reminiscent of the Captain Morton/James Cagney character in the 1955 classic Mr Roberts played by J.K Simmons (from TV’s The Closer or Law and Order, Burn After Reading, Juno) he instantly comes under close scrutiny.

Things get worse when the vessel arrives in Panama and the plan goes out the window. Each step is fraught with peril and obstacles keep coming appearing.

This is a desperate venture where loyalty comes at a price and it’s a price some aren’t prepared to pay. Friends may not be what they seem, there are deals within deals and nothing is set in cement. My advice – “pay attention”.

Ably supported by Kate Beckinsale (from the Underground franchise) as the increasingly imperilled wife, Giovanni Ribisi (Saving Private Ryan, Heaven, Avatar) convincingly plays the sociopathic drug importer Tim Briggs with menace and Luke Haas (starred with Harrison Ford in Witness but more recently Inception).

There are many shortcomings to this film which is often the case when the lead is also one of the producers but if you liked Transporter II or Ocean’s Eleven you’ll probably like this.

There is a growing Scandinavian crime/thriller genre, the Swedish ‘Millennium Trilogy’ – Girl with the Dragon tattoo, Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire and the most recent US re-make of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Contraband is a US adaption of an Arnaldur Indridason screenplay for the award winning Icelandic film ‘Reykjavík-Rotterdam ‘ directed by Baltasar Kormákur (who starred in the original film) and is his second attempt at directing an English-language film.

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