Contraband (2012)

This ‘caper’ left me feeling strangely dissatisfied…and not sure of the ‘smarts’ behind what I saw. Marky Mark leads this not-so-thrilling ‘thriller’, playing another version of…well…Mark Wahlberg as he phones in the role of the former master smuggler; dragged back into the sordid life by his unfortunate, dumbass brother-in-law. As Wahlberg and Co. put their intricate, coincidence-reliant plan into action (on a cargo ship), his land-locked family is tormented by a wussy, nasally-voiced villain played by the usually decent (despite being one of them lunatic Scientologists) Giovanni Ribisi. This is one of the more pathetic displays of ‘Bad Guy’ I’ve encountered lately, with Ribisi coming off like a scrawny, pompadour-wearing moron with the most grating, idiotic ‘character’ voice EVER. He speaks like Betty Boop after a night of smoking burnt tires and is generally highly annoying. Nearly as annoying as the entire caper sequence, which occupies at least a third of the flick. There are countless examples of things happening…JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME! Countless! The whole ‘race the clock’ motif is great if done with some sense of actual time passage and realistic stakes. And there’s no way that The Plan would’ve actually come off incognito given how much of it they do in the open. Added to which is the confusing and cumbersome crisscrossing of loyalties and alliances amongst the supporting characters. Basically, very little of this clumsy movie is done with any finesse. There’s some decent acting from the reliant Ben Foster as Wahlbergs questionable partner-in-crime but he’s given next to nothing to work with. The same goes for the goddess-like Kate Beckinsale, who’s flimsy ‘damsel in distress’ character could’ve been played by just about anyone. There’s a FAIRLY Ok armoured car heist action scene that owes it’s entire existence to the FAR superior Heat (1995), only the logistics of how it comes to occur in the ‘story’ are stupid and lazy. And I should mention that every character that has ‘It’ coming…don’t get what they deserve. The ‘wrap-up’ is criminally underwhelming and ludicrous. In good conscience, I can’t recommend this one. It wants to be smarter than it really is and the veneer of complexity is paper thin. Don’t bother.


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