Contraband (2012)

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Remake of: Reykjavík Rotterdam
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, David O’Hara, Diego Luna, J. K. Simmons

Chris (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a smuggler (and a damn good one). But when he got a wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids, he quit. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) isn’t as smart or as good a smuggler and so he gets into trouble with Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) who hired him to smuggle drugs Andy promptly had to dump. Briggs threatens Chris and his family and pressures him into a job. And so Chris and his best friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) get their old group together to get counterfeit money into the country.

Contraband is so formulaic, it practically becomes its own archetype. Unfortunately that’s the only thing that stands out about the film.

I probably wouldn’t have watched the film at all if it wasn’t for Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Foster, who I both really like a whole lot: they are very talented actors who we get to see way too rarely. (I also like Diego Luna and J. K. Simmons but they are not that much of a draw for some reason.) But even they can’t do much with a script and characters like that.

Because all the characters have exactly one adjective to describe them and then they don’t develop. And the plot is so predictable and formulaic that you can call exactly what happens from watching the trailer. With such a tried and tested format, you’d think they’d at least be able to avoid the plot holes, but no chance of that.

It could have nevertheless been really enjoyable but any chances of that are destroyed with the camerawork that is just all over the place, zooming and wobbling and at weird angles.

In the end Kormákur just doesn’t manage to keep up the tension and while the purity of its formula is impressive, it doesn’t make for really good entertainment.

Summarising: Just leave it.

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