Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Studio: Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Blueeyes Productions
Long on predictability and short on pop and zing, Contraband, based on a 2008 Icelandic flick unreleased in the U.S., is a wheezy, credibility-straining heist movie. You know the old story of the ex-criminal gone straight who gets suckered back into doing that one last job? Well, here it is yet again, courtesy of star/producer Mark Wahlberg doing his standard terse, blue collar ‘street’ thing as a former smuggler-turned-alarm systems guy and master of trickery and chicanery.
Wahlberg gets the call to action when his young brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) screws up a drug shipment on an interdicted boat, putting him in trouble with a drug lord (an enjoyable Giovanni Ribisi). Wahlberg’s silly hero temporarily ditches his wife (luckless Kate Beckinsale, mostly around to defy logic and get roughed-up) leaving her to deal with his slimy ex-partner (Ben Foster).
But the bulk of the movie has Wahlberg’s character (nickname: “Houdini”) getting up to his neck in trouble in Panama, involving drugs, trying to smuggle counterfeit loot into the country and encounters with figures from his shadowy past. The latter, happily, paves the way for scene-stealing performances from J.K. Simmons as a short-fused ship captain and Diego Luna as a crackpot. There’s a shoot-up and a few other halfway decent action set-pieces, but that’s about it. Contraband isn’t wildly, floridly terrible – oh, if only it were – but it’s just so standard and forgettable that you’d think Wahlberg would be over all this sort of nonsense by now.