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Contraband
BLU-RAY disk
Apr 25, 2012 By: Jason Adams
Contraband order download
Director:
Baltasar Kormakur

Actors:
Mark Wahlberg
Kate Beckinsale
Ben Foster

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A former expert smuggler is forced back in to the game when his brother-in-law bungles a delivery and pisses off a vengeful mobster.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I think we’ve established by now that Mark Wahlberg is a competent actor, dependable at least as the generic action movie tough guy (when not compelled to greatness by filmmakers like David O. Russell or Martin Scorsese). And CONTRABAND is just that…a competent action motion picture. It’s a match made in “pretty good” heaven.

That may sound like faint praise but in today’s world of lazy cookie cutter films, CONTRABAND actually is something of a surprise, providing exactly what you expect without exceeding or failing your expectations. It’s the same story as so many heist movies before it (including GONE IN 60 SECONDS, which shares Giovanni Ribisi). But while the plot points are by-the-numbers and the screenplay riddled with clichés, it’s a formula that makes for decent popcorn fare for a January audience.

Probably the only interesting or unique thing about the film is that it was directed by Baltasar Kormákur, who starred in the original Icelandic movie REYKJAVÍK-ROTTERDAM as Wahlberg’s character. (Yes, this is a remake.) That probably explains why his Chris Farraday is the strongest and most dynamic portion of the movie, the only thing it actually seems to care about. Though Wahlberg is essentially playing the same guy he did in THE ITALIAN JOB, SHOOTER, etc., he still has enough to work with. The supporting cast is actually pretty impressive with Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Lucas Haas, Diego Luna and the great J.K. Simmons, but nobody is anywhere near as fleshed out as the main character.

CONTRABAND naturally takes you through the world of underground smuggling, following Wahlberg as he picks up the goods, ships it and gets it across the border. Obstacles are obviously thrown his way, which makes for some effectively tense spots—especially when they go to Panama City to actually get the merchandise – but after that the movie just kind of putters along, never reaching the same heights as in the second act. That’s mainly due to the villains being much weaker than Wahlberg, which is the film’s big issue.

While it’s fun to watch Mark Wahlberg bash heads and outsmart the bad guys, it sucks that he’s never really challenged that much. Giovanni Ribisi is perhaps the least threatening bad guy ever. His gravelly accent and squirrely demeanor almost make him a joke. The final act really could’ve used a bigger showdown and a stronger villain, or at least one who couldn’t easily have his ass handed to him by Kate Beckinsale.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by director Baltasar Kormákur and producer Evan Hayes: As Kormákur starred in the original Icelandic movie, he provides a pretty interesting perspective on things, and having done it twice he clearly has plenty to say. Some of the same info is covered in other special features though.

U-Control: This picture in picture option pulls up interviews, behind the scenes footage and more while you watch the movie, though it’s not constant enough to really warrant your time.

Under the Radar (17:02): This making of feature covers quite a bit of ground: the transition of the star of the original movie to director of this American remake, as well as how Wahlberg came on as producer and star, and more. You also get to see Kate Beckinsale covered in concrete.

Reality and Factor (7:56): This look at the action and stunts shows how they did everything real and practical as possible. It mostly focuses on the big action scene in Panama, as well as some of the fights. Walhberg clearly knows what he’s doing in this department.

Deleted Scenes: These twelve brief scenes is mostly comprised of more footage on the ship, with nothing that’s too sorely missed.

The set also comes with a DVD and digital Ultraviolet copy of the film.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
For a movie released in the veritable dumping ground known as January, CONTRABAND is actually pretty decent. If you’ve seen a heist movie or a Mark Wahlberg action flick before, then you know what to expect.

Extra Tidbit: In addition to actor-director Baltasar Kormákur, CONTRABAND also shares the same editor as the original Icelandic film.
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5:50AM on 04/25/2012
Am I the only person on this site who doesn't think of this movie as an "action" movie? It's just good old-fashioned suspense - and with a few neat shootouts here and there. It doesn't lose steam as it goes on; quite the contrary - same goes for Chris having "never really (being) challenged that much" - are you kidding me? When S P O I L E R . . . A L E R T ! ! ! his wife winds up getting into serious trouble, he's still so far away, and has to first GET to where she is, and only THEN
Am I the only person on this site who doesn't think of this movie as an "action" movie? It's just good old-fashioned suspense - and with a few neat shootouts here and there. It doesn't lose steam as it goes on; quite the contrary - same goes for Chris having "never really (being) challenged that much" - are you kidding me? When S P O I L E R . . . A L E R T ! ! ! his wife winds up getting into serious trouble, he's still so far away, and has to first GET to where she is, and only THEN figure out what's going on and how/if he can save her! The last twenty minutes or so of the movie are some of the most tense, nail-biting stuff I've seen all year! No, I'm sorry: Contraband is a tense, taut SUSPENSE film, like something Victor Mature or Robert Mitchum would've made back in the '40's, with the only timely differences being the style of the film's look and feel, and the faces therein.
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