When attempting to watch a movie such as Contraband, it's imperative to do so with the correct mindset or, perhaps even better, completely turn off said mind and enjoy the film for what it is – a mindless, cliche-riddled action film.
To say Mark Wahlberg should be above movies such as Contraband at this point in his career is perhaps giving him a bit too much credit. Of course, Wahlberg has done some fine acting in some respectable films – The Departed, The Fighter, and Boogie Nights –but Contraband just seems to have the other Mark Wahlberg – The Happening, Max Payne, Shooter – written all over it.
Our man, Mark, is Chris Farrady, an accomplished former smuggler gone straight, trying to make a new life for himself installing security systems to provide for his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons. When his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Jones) botches a smuggling job and has to answer for a loss of $700,000, Farrady is forced back into the criminal world. Ignoring the pleas of his wife, Farrady sets off to save Andy the only way he knows how – by smuggling counterfeit bills out of Panama.
Sure, the "one last job" theme is old enough to need a walker and – spoiler alert – of course things don't work out quite as smoothly as Farrady plans, but what Contraband lacks in originality, believable accents, and plausibility, it makes up in the kind of mindless entertainment we have come to expect from any picture Wahlberg chooses to grace with his singular style and swagger.
Wahlberg is featured doing what he does best – wearing tight t-shirts, punching people, and flashing that choir-boy/hoodlum look he can't seem to shake years after he left the Marky Mark moniker and his trouble making ways behind. Beckinsale, although with a questionable accent, has a fine turn in her role – which consists mainly of serving as a punching bag. Add in a few decent action sequences and we have ourselves an enjoyable summer popcorn movie – albeit one released in January.
All action films need not be mindless, of course. There are many actions flicks that can be praised and remembered as all around fine films. Contraband is not one of those films, but it is a fine film to be consumed and enjoyed in the moment and soon forgotten, like so many tubs of popcorn.
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