The thrills, suspense, and menace are criminally AWOL from Contraband
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, and Giovanni Ribisi. Rated 18A. Now playing
We like Mark Wahlberg and we like his muscles, but someone needs to apologize to John Lennon and Paul McCartney for Contraband. Contraband is one of those one-last-heist flicks that we’ve never, ever seen before, but ignore that. But this, this can’t be ignored. Someone calls two smugglers (Wahlberg, who we honestly like, and Ben Foster, who we usually like) the “Lennon and McCartney of smuggling”. Maybe you’re not the Milli Vanilli of smuggling, but you, sirs, are no Lennon and McCartney.
Chris (Wahlberg) once smuggled everything and his grandma into the port of gritty, naughty New Orleans. (Director Baltasar Kormákur, star of 2008’s Reykjavik-Rotterdam, upon which Contraband is based, uses jazzy music and hand-held-camera stuff to remind us of the gritty naughtiness.) Now he’s gone legit so he can live cozily with his hot wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale, whose hotness doesn’t stop the movie from obsessively abusing her), and young sons. Handily, Kate’s phenomenally stupid brother, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), has his own smuggling calamity, and Chris—surprise!—must do one last gig to keep everybody breathing.
The one-last-heist thing is fine, really. Chris and Andy hopping a cargo ship to Panama City to snag some funny money sounds okay. And the utter impossibility of every moment is, theoretically, okay, too: Chris and crew (including Lukas Haas) have one hour ashore to do their business. Things—involving Diego Luna as a longhaired, actually kinda sexy, lunatic crime boss and an armoured-car heist—go awry.
Giovanni Ribisi, as the tatted wacko enraged over Andy’s last job? Not so good. Giovanni: is that a Cajun accent or does the Sea Org need to “clear” your throat? Foster, overacting, deep-throats lollipops. But, mostly—save for gratuitous Kate abuse—thrills, suspense, and menace are criminally AWOL. The sole witty bit involves a Jackson Pollock painting. Apologies anyway, Jackson. Just because.
Watch the trailer for Contraband.