Please do not get me wrong, I enjoyed Contraband and found it rather entertaining. However, there were some aspects to the film that left me a little confused, I will explain. Contraband is a better than average action/heist flick that Rotten-Tomatoes summed up perfectly: “It's more entertaining than your average January action thriller, but that isn't enough to excuse Contraband's lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot.” The film revolves around Chris Farraday, played by mark Wahlberg as a criminal gone clean security system expert, who is thrown back into the “runners” game. Farraday, who apparently has a long reputation as one of the best contraband smugglers ever, must pull off one big job after his brother-in-law gets in trouble with a local criminal, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi). With the help of his long time friend and partner Sebastian (Ben Foster), Farraday must dig into his old bag of tricks as the final “run” constantly hits snags on the way. Farraday is in a race against the clock as the fate of his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons hangs in the balance. The film is a good action flick. There is plenty of action, guy catch-phrases (“I’m coming for you”), and decent plot twists. My problem with the film is the following.
When I go to the movies I think about what type of movie I am going to see and I change my mind-set to match the film. I don’t go in expecting more or less than what the movie is supposed to be. If I am going into a real drama, I won’t expect action; if I am going to a fun action flick, I am not looking for complete realistic action; if I am going to a stupid comedy, I buy into the mood. Nothing bothers me more than when someone comes out of an action film saying, “well that was not really possible…. Bruce Willis can’t shoot a cop car at a helicopter.” NEWS FLASH!!!! I know Bruce Willis can’t shoot a cop car at a helicopter. But I enjoy watching John McClane do the impossible because John McClane, not Bruce Willis is the frakking man (that’s my Battlestar Galactica reference for this post).
So when I went to the 11pm showing of Contraband with my brother and awesome girlfriend I put myself in the mindset of going to see a Mark Wahlberg action flick. I prepared myself to see a better version of Shooter, The Other Guys, Four Brothers, The Italian Job, and The Big Hit. What I got was exactly that, well at least from Wahlberg. You see, what bothered me about this film is that it wasted such good actors such as Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Foster. Ribisi is a great actor to me and was an excellent villain in this film. But being that this was Wahlberg’s action flick, he gets completely overshadowed and washed out. Complete with tattoos, facial hair and accent, Ribisi makes you hate his character yet want to see more of him.
But perhaps the most peculiar character of the film for me is Ben Foster. Ben Foster is one of my favorite Hollywood actors. The “relatively” unknown Foster has always received praise for his work. Foster doesn’t have a ton on his resume but there are few actors I enjoy more. He is perhaps most the most talented actor in this film. His performances in some of his earlier works including The Messenger, Rampart, The Mechanic, 3:10 to Yuma and Hostage were very intriguing. Even in his supporting roles he often is a scene stealer. His demented portrayal of a disturbed teenager in Hostage is one of my favorite and most memorable performances ever by a villain. Even his side-kick character in 3:10 to Yuma was a scene stealer for me. I won’t reveal too much about his character in Contraband but all I can say is that I wanted more of him. Beckinsale, (who I happen to be in love with) was actually pretty good in her supporting role as Farraday’s wife. Though her scenes and screen time are limited she definitely makes the most of it.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I definitely enjoyed the film but was slightly confused while watching it. From my action loving-guilty pleasure side, I definitely enjoyed the film despite its unnecessary plot twists, undeveloped characters, and ability to want me leaving more. I would have loved more Rabisi and Foster and could only wonder what a more serious film with those two could have been.
Sex: just a little bit of kissing Violence: yes, it’s an action flick Language: this is what probably got in the R rating Drugs: one instance of drug use Rated: R Run time: 109 min Grade: 3 Stars