Contraband is most definitely a Mark Wahlberg movie. Like many modern action-hero movies, Wahlberg’s main character, Chris Farraday, is unrealistically amazing at everything. He is an ex-smuggler — one of the best — who is trying to become a family man for his two sons and wife, played by Kate Beckinsale.
However, his young brother-in-law Andy gets mixed in with a tough thug, owing him $10,000. If the debt isn’t paid, the gangster is going to come after Farraday’s whole family. To make that much money, Farraday plans to run one last smuggling operation on a cargo ship from Panama to the United States. He leaves for Panama with his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) in charge of his family — who is under threat from the gangsters.
Unsurprisingly, nothing seems to be going right for Farraday in Panama. Tons of action ensues. And of course, those closest to Farraday are not as trustworthy as they seem.
As far as typical action-hero movies are concerned, Contraband is a cut above the rest. The action is over the top, but it is intermixed with the suspense and danger of Farraday’s family as well as some clever plot twists and accurate smuggling procedures that show the movie to have a decent amount of “brain” for an action movie, a genre usually known for just “brawn.”
Contraband also makes full use of its R rating. There is no real nudity or sexual tension, and the violence of the movie isn’t too bad as far as modern movies go. There is plenty of action-related violence, but none that is overly brutal or bloody. The big issue for me was that the f-word and other curse words are used commonly, almost unnecessarily common. The low-life characters in the film probably would speak in this sort of uncouth dialogue in real life, but I grew tired of the ‘f’ this and ‘f’ that.
Though Contraband is a true rip-roaring child of Hollywood, I was interested to find that the director Balthasar Kormakur structured the movie as a remake of an Icelandic film, Reykjavík-Rotterdam. Balthasar also starred in this Icelandic pre-cursor film.
On an entertainment level, Contraband kept me attentive from beginning to end.
Adam Sharpnack is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW