Mark Wahlberg stars in Contraband as Chris Farraday, an ex-smuggler brought in to carry out one last job.
Wahlberg is a dependable name when it comes to leading big budget Hollywood films. Although Farraday, his character here in Contraband, is hardly ground-breaking, he provides the film with a solid protagonist on which much of the story’s burden falls. We’re introduced to many of the characters at a wedding party where they reminisce about Farraday’s shady, but ultimately stellar, smuggling past. He’s soon thrust back into a world he gave up for his wife and children when his brother in law (X-Men: First Class’s Caleb Landry Jones) gets involved with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi)’s gang.
After some painful moments of deliberation, Farraday sets sail to Panama to pursue a job (obtaining millions of dollars of counterfeit bills) that will ensure his family’s safety. Inevitable setbacks ensue and soon he finds himself racing against time and fighting against an increasing number of enemies to meet Briggs’s deadline.
Support comes from Kate Beckinsale, appearing as Farraday’s wife, and Ben Foster, his once right-hand man. Neither are tested too much with their stock roles but both provide engaging performances that help aid the sense of panic infused in the film. Whilst failing to throw too many deceptive curve balls, Contraband manages to pack a few twists and turns that help the story move from gangster flick to quasi-intelligent thriller that provides some nail-biting moments.
The casting is solid for the film’s scripting. The film never really pushes against its comfort zone but still manages to produce an entertaining, if a little formulaic, story. The interweaving scheming of many of the characters leads to the biggest thrill of the piece whilst lose ends are tied up nicely with most getting their just desserts.
Director Baltasar Kormákur has made a strong feature here that is sure to thrill, if not entirely fixate, its target audience.
Best performance: Mark Wahlberg.
What we learned: Salt dissolves in water.