Contraband can be anything that is illegal to either import or export. In this case, its fake bills for ex-runner Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) and his group of smugglers. After a drug run goes bad for his brother-in-law, Chris must pick up the pieces and try to set things straight before his family becomes the target of a deal gone bad. He’s been out of the game for a while now, though. Does he still have what it takes to bring home the goods?
At first glance Contraband looks like your stereotypical crime drama in which a bunch of characters attempt to score big through some illegal trafficking and have plenty run-ins with authority. What sets this film apart is the fact that you don’t see too many films about the importation process itself. Usually it’s a single scene showing smugglers crossing the border, getting caught, etc. Rarely do you see an entire film based around the subject. It’s an interesting look into smuggling, as dramatized as it may be. Definitely a nice break from the typical bank robberies and multi-million dollar heists we see in films today.
Mark Wahlberg does what he does best and plays a criminal who’s turned a new leaf. Unfortunately that’s short lived as he has to do one more job to keep his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids safe. Much of the film is split between two scenarios; there’s Chris and his attempt to smuggle million’s worth of counterfeit money into the country, and then there’s his friend Sebastian (Ben Foster) who stays behind and helps protect Kate and the kids from any retaliation that may arise. Foster, as always, doesn’t disappoint and brings an intense performance to the screen. One second he can be Mr. Nice Guy and the next he’ll be bashing someone’s head in.
There’s a good amount of action within Contraband, including an intense gunfight with the crazy Gonzalo (Diego Luna) after a highway robbery goes wrong. There’s also a good amount of humor in the film, perhaps a little too much as it tends to take away from the suspenseful moments. Cracking a joke when you’re trying to smuggle a ton of cash into the country doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. Still, Contraband provides one action-packed experience.
While Contraband may not do anything exceptionally well, the film manages to deliver an enjoyable crime drama that’ll keep you hooked till the end. There are a few memorable moments, just don’t go in expecting a masterpiece.
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