Directed by Baltasar Kormákur. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Caleb Landry Jones and J.K. Simmons. 110 minutes. 14A
Like I said yesterday, I’m not much into action movies. But after seeing The Italian Job, I realized I need to give them more of a chance, which is why I saw Contraband. So if you’re one of those who often shy away from gun-yielding, adrenaline-pumping, high-speed chase action movies, then this post’s for you.
Actually, Contraband isn’t so much of an action movie as it is suspense. The story follows Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), a former drug smuggler who was clean until his younger brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) got into the business and botched a deal. It’s up to Farraday to save the day, but any other way than getting back into smuggling.
While there are some high adrenaline physical moments and hot chases, the movie is more comprised of palpably tense phone calls and confrontations. Combined with talented roster of actors (well, I’m not so much a fan of Wahlberg but this is his genre if there was one), these scenes make for a captivating suspense-thriller with perfect pacing and occasional bouts of action.
The problem with this movie is that it was (almost) exactly what I expected: a marginally above-average action movie. As I described my usual expectations of Wahlberg yesterday, he was a “tough guy with a warped sense of righteousness,” ie. a former drug dealer who wouldn’t go to the cops to right a wrong, but would break the law in almost-equally as consequential ways to avoid doing another deal himself.
However, I was taken aback by the supporting cast, namely Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster and Caleb Landry Jones. Actually, Jones has given strong performances in a lot of movies recently that have gone unnoticed (ie. The Last Exorcism, X-Men: First Class). I think we’ll need to keep an eye out for him.
Overall, it’s good. But it’s just that. If you love action and suspense, see it. If you don’t but you’re not really feeling anything else, see it. B-