Some days you need to see a film with some tough dude action. Pulling off heists, shooting guns, car chases and getting back at people. You know a movie with some solid punches to the face in them, hard stuff. This movie Contraband has all that in spades. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster and some other great actors all having a great time on screen.
Set in New Orleans, Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday an ex smuggler who has successfully gotten out of the life of crime to lead a legit life with his wife, played by Kate Beckinsale and two sons. He’s dragged back into the game by his younger brother-in-law who has gotten in trouble with a local gangster Tim Briggs, played by Giovanni Ribisi. To save his brother-in-law and protect his family he decides to one last big heist.
Wahlberg is classic Wahlberg here. He’s likable, tough, street smart, and charming as ever. His Chris Farraday is a guy you’d love to hang out with in New Orleans all the time. He’s a working class heist genius; he never comes off as too smart or smarmy. The other real standout performance is from Giovanni Ribisi as Tim Briggs. He’s threatening yet hilarious with the crazy accent he chose to use for the role. At times he seems like the fool yet you never lose that feeling that he can be really bad at any moment. There are also some nice surprises by J.K. Simmons as a ship captain and Diego Luna as a crazy Panamanian gangster trying to rob an armored car. Both are pleasantly over the top and not distracting from movie at any point.
The look of the film is clean and fast. There are some quick cuts but nothing like you would see in a music video or anything. There is also a little bit of play with camera in terms of playing with zoom and focus especially in regards to the talking scenes. It’s noticeable but not to distracting from watching the movie. Another thing used in this is color contrasting, a lot of the New Orleans scenes and ship scenes are very blue in tone whereas Panama is very orange in tone. It also visually helps to change the pace of the movie since when they get to Panama things begin to ratchet up and the action gets bigger.
This is a film where you have to have to take some things as they are. There are some twists and turns that you will see coming. Maybe a mile away but it’s all still enjoyable. You’ll root for Chris and his crew to pull off their insane heist and not get caught. You’ll worry about Kate Beckinsale and her children as they are tormented by many things. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this movie that is breath of fresh air of January movie graveyard or Oscar film catch-up. Contraband is well worth your time and money at the movies this weekend.
Final Grade is a B
Originally published on Reel Film News