Movie Review: Contraband

The tightly plotted Contraband holds interest throughout, pounding its twisting tale with fists, foul language and the terrible theme that the ends justify the means. Don’t look too closely or think too much if you are in the mood for an action thriller and you’ll appreciate seeing Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights) as a former smuggler gone legit who heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills in order to protect his idiotic brother-in-law from a drug lord played by Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar), who hams it up with relish. No one is particuarly bright in this gangster film, which does take some interesting if totally stretched turns, but it quickens the pulse and keeps moving. Of course, the main characters become positively brilliant when the plot needs them to be, but most of the time the good guys and bad guys stick to the mediocre script, given life by an Icelandic director named Baltasar Kormakur. Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale (Whiteout) play Mr. and Mrs. Farraday, who try to stay calm while he’s off cavorting in crime just this once and she stays under guard with the kids by his sidekick (Ben Foster, who specializes in these skinny neurotic types). Contraband keeps changing its payload, involving drugs, loot and, cued to its message that crime does pay, modern art which humorously passes for a blotchy old tarp. J.K. Simmons (Juno) as a freighter captain, Diego Luna (Milk) as Gonzalo the crime lord and Lukas Haas (Witness) as a newlywed round out the cast for a brisk, amoral game of gotcha.

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