Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Contraband

Contraband
Starring:
Mark Wahberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Caleb Landry Jones and J.K. Simmons


Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: January 13, 2012 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

The underbelly of Mark Wahlberg's latest leaden heist of an actioner is hardly anything camouflaging itself as routine, obnoxious and risible.
 
Contraband, relocated to the Crescent City and Panama, also stars Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, and Giovanni Ribisi, sets up that 'one last job' scenario that won't go as planned for settled-down super smugger Chris Farraday (Wahlberg of The Fighter).
 
A fine time at a wedding reception is impeded to have Chris reenter a business (which included sedition) where he was known as 'Houdini' for a knack to keep custom agents out of the loop of what seemingly appeared on the manifests of cargo ships. Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), brother of Chris's wife Kate (Beckinsale in a standard wifely suffering role), is direly indebted to wild outlaw Tim Briggs (Ribisi), leading to a crucial family situation.
 
Icelandic helmer Baltasar Kormakur can't do much with Aaron Guzikowski's senseless script (from a 2008 picture from the director's native land in which he starred), except in the locational feel around New Orleans, as the story revolves around a swindling scheme with cohort Sebastian (Foster of The Messenger, wasted as an incredulous, manipulative dramatic pawn) of procuring and moving counterfeit bills. Chris will have a kind of refuge during this dangerous plot through a tool board.
 
Since there is an odd sense (or lack thereof) of pacing by Kormatur, especially when an armored truck is ambushed, the (often) hand-held lensing is too restless and undermines the ability to make potential flashy sequences taut. Thus, the end result is more exploitative and scattershot than intended for something high-minded and high-pitched.
 
Wahlberg isn't allowed to exude a drollness desperately needed here, as Chris's tough determinism is a bland fit with the rigid, undemanding plot mechanics. While a more blondish Beckinsale (of the upcoming Underworld Awakening) has her fits and stays photogenic enough when blissful with Chris, J.K. Simmons appears in a rote commodore part. Ribisi, perhaps channeling some of the same neurotic goofiness he did in The Rum Diary opposite a Hunter S. Thompson-inspired Johnny Depp, is the conventional squeaky, tattooed villainous emoter that probably stands out the most in a rhythmless, coarse high-seas founderer.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Contraband  C+      C-                  C 

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