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Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best-running contraband-to settle Andy's debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster), to head to Panama and return with millions in counterfeit bills. Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mark Wahlberg brings his A for Action man game to Contraband, while cinematographer Barry Ackroyd brings his S for supershaky and laborious hand held game - again. He did to this film what he did to the visuals of both The Hurt Locker and The Green Zone and that's not a compliment.

In that respect the film starts behind the 8 ball for me, but Wahlberg and the rest of the excellently chosen cast keep us engaged, even though the screenplay and direction are full of holes and contrivances.

In the set-up, we learn that Chris (Wahlberg) has put a criminal past behind him, married Kate (Kate Beckinsale in good form) and had two little boys, setting up in the security business. But when Kate's younger and stupider brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), ignores Chris' advice and follows in his footseps - and makes vicious crim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) very angry - Chris has no option but to one more big job to save not only Andy but his entire family. So far so unfresh.

The story spins on its own axis as Chris wangles himself a ride on a huge container ship and manages to put together an audacious plan to bring in counterfeit money from Panama in large enough quantities to pay off Andy's debt. It seems like child's play as he makes it up as he goes along.

Ribisi is wonderfully hateable as the villain with slicked back hair and a smile like a crocodile, while the dependable J. K. Simmonds is great fun as the captain. Ben Foster is perfectly cast as Sebastian, Chris' best friend, who turns out to be less than reliable and deadly dangerous to boot.

Icelandic actor/director Baltasar Kormákur allows too many conveniences to prop up the storyline and the dialogue sound mix is often blurred, while the aforementioned visuals in fashionably incoherent 'camerawonk' contribute to the sense that we are skimming over the surface of this story.

But there are some good ideas floating around (notable at the end) and there is attention to tension, which helps pass the time.
Published first in the Sun Herald

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(US/UK/France, 2012)

CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, Robert Wahlberg, Lukas Haas, J. K. Simmonds

PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson,

DIRECTOR: Baltasar Kormákur

SCRIPT: Aaron Guzikowski, Arnaldur Indriðason,


EDITOR: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir

MUSIC: Clinton Shorter


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 23, 2012

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