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A movie directed by Baltasar Kormákur

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  • Jan 12, 2012
A former thief must commit one last job in order to look after and protect his family, coming out this week Mark Wahlberg stars in The Italian Job. Wait no, that knock off came out in 2003 and was based off a 1969 movie, this knock off is based off a 2008 Icelandic movie. Contraband is actually directed by the star of the original movie, so at least with a larger budget and the experience of working on the same story before the crew should be able to make a well done movie. At its best Contraband is a formulaic genre piece that is something to see if there is nothing else on. 

In this version of the movie Marky Mark plays Chris Farraday, a former thief who once had the nickname of Houdini for his ability to get illicit items past customs agents. He has since got out of the game and now installs security systems and comes home to his loving children and wife played by Kate Beckinsale. That is until his wife's brother gets in deep with a man who is not quick to forgive for lost merchandise. He now must commit one final job to get his brother in law out of trouble and protect his family.

This is a far cry from anything worthy of an academy award by Marky Mark. The project seems perfectly tailored to a younger Wahlberg when he was making movies like The Italian Job. The movie though lacked any of the pop he displayed in The Departed or the humor from I Heart Huckabees. He instead reverts back to his comfort zone of principled tough guy rocking tight t-shirts. Which is fine, he does display a level of comfort in the role knowing it is well within his wheel house. Fortunately for everyone he doesn't attempt a New Orleans accent, and instead sticks with his Boston attitude and accent.

Kate Beckinsale is stuck at home playing wifey and offers very little to the role besides playing the damsel in distress. The only performance that really stands out is Giovanni Ribisi as character actor and fill-in bad guy Tim Briggs, rocking out neck tattoos and poorly groomed facial hair to let everyone know his role. His performance is completely over the top but it fits the movie and he is fun to watch. It is also too ridiculous to take him as a serious threat.

Ridiculousness tends to run throughout the movie as each series of event seems to be far too coincidental to do anything but laugh at. Once they make port it seems that the boat is always in a state of shipping off in 10 minutes. It lacks any control of a realistic timeline as there is no way they would be able to get any of these things done in the time they have set out to do it in. This plays a problem as it seems the funky bunch have a laundry list of things to do before heading back, with each event leading up to another even more outlandish task. The problem with the story is it seems the writing staff first wrote an action beat every 10 pages or so and then filled in the rest from there. This may be why any semblance of story seems lost in the jumble; it’s as if they ran out of room to write before they hit another car sequence. Probably the only intentionally funny part of the movie involves the theft of a near priceless Jackson Pollack. 

The movie's director Balastar Kormakur tries to raise the stakes by using a lot of shaky camera techniques and quick zooms. All this accomplishes though is an unfocused shot that takes you directly out of the story. 

At the very least Contraband knows that it is a genre movie, and doesn't try to be anything more grandiose. It is a mediocre movie that could stand out because in general January is usually a lackluster time for movies. This may not be enough to make you go out and see it immediately but at least you know it is out there. C+

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March 27, 2013
Poor Mr. Wahlberg. He meddles with so many lesser flicks these days. I don't understand how he chooses his projects.
January 19, 2012
Sounds like one I don't want to see. Mark Walburg is a hit and miss for me, sounds like a miss here. Nice review and thank you for sharing!
January 19, 2012
Its not a great film by any standard but I think I enjoyed it a bit more than you did. It was mindless but a fun ride for the ticket price.
More Contraband reviews
review by . January 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A Thrill-Ride On Some Levels On A Tired Genre....
I cannot believe sometimes how often movie remakes get made; I admit that some remakes have gotten better, and some have even surpassed the quality of the original. I wasn’t exactly expecting much with director Baltasar Kormakur’s remake of the 2009 Icelandic crime drama “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” called “Contraband”; and I didn’t get much out of it either. The film is pretty entertaining in its own way and is better than most standard action crime dramas; but …
review by . January 19, 2012
I just saw Contraband on Friday. When a movie poster shows Mark Wahlberg with a gun, lifting his shirt, exposing his stomach with dollar bills stuffed in the top of his pants you have to know what to expect. This isn't going to be any classic. So I went in knowing it was not going to be a great film. It also wasn't a really bad film either. It was just what I expected and very predictable. There are several plot twists as expected. The only bad thing is you saw them coming from a mile away …
review by . January 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Reykjavik-Rotterdam was a 2009 Icelandic crime thriller that never received a wide release in the U.S., apart from a few screenings at film festivals. The star of the film, Baltasar Kormákur, now serves as the director and producer of its American remake, Contraband. On the basis of the end results, perhaps it isn’t always a good idea to let someone intimately familiar with a concept have a hand at bringing it to the big screen. The …
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