“Contraband” – Review by MovieManMenzel

A completely unnecessary film that adds nothing to an already crowded genre.

Contraband is a remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam that was a huge hit in Iceland back in 2008. As expected, Hollywood is attempting to cash in on the film’s success and has made it into an American project. The American version stars Mark Wahlberg as Chris, who used to be in the smuggling business, but has decided to give it up because he wants to have a calm life with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two children. It isn’t long, however, before his wife’s brother-in-law gets in trouble with the mob and calls on Chris for help. Chris along with his brother Sebastian (Ben Foster) get the old gang back together and head to Panama to pull off the biggest smuggling gig of their career. A typical and cliched action thriller ensues…

When I originally saw the trailer for Contraband a few weeks back, I really wasn’t impressed or interested in the film, because it simply seemed like more of the same. When walking out of the theater after seeing Contraband that was my exact reaction. This movie is sadly one of those films that is clearly made to just make money and do nothing else. There is no originality in this film at all. The lead character Chris is as typical character that you would expect to see in this type of film and is played by Mark Wahlberg, an actor who you would expect to play this role. Chris is a bad ass and someone who you don’t mess with. Just looking at Chris makes it almost impossible to believe that he would be afraid of the film’s villain Tim played by Giovanni Ribisi, who not only sounds like a squeaky mouse, but is also a weakling. If you want me to believe a villain, you have to create a villain that seems tough and not someone, who is going to get beat up every second he is on screen. Seriously, who believed this nonsense?

If you can move past the lackluster villain then you can begin to focus on the plot. This plot is so cliched and uninspired. A guy leaves an illegal business because of his wife and kids, but than has to go back into the business because of a family member. Seriously? How many times have we seen this plot before and it doesn’t even try to do anything to make it stand out. I realize that most plots in movies especially action films are recycled, but this film did nothing to try to give a unique spin. Instead, the film dumbs down the genre even more than it already is. I am not going to spoil this film, but there are so many plot holes in this film. There is one involving a van and painting that makes no sense what so ever. Also, the timing of what happens on screen seems to be completely off throughout most of the film. We are suppose to believe that all this happens in the span of a few hours? Give me a break.

I am really kind of sick of seeing Mark Wahlberg play the same role in every other movie. We know you are a tough guy and are good at those roles, but seriously try to do something else at this point. As an actor, you are suppose to take on roles that challenge you. This isn’t a challenge for him at all. Kate Beckinsale seems wasted in the film as her small role requires so little from her. Giovanni Ribisi is laughably bad as a mob boss with a horrible voice. J.K. Simmons seems so out of place, but at least he is attempting to switch up the characters he plays so I do give him credit for that. The rest of the acting is alright. Nothing great, nothing horrible.

If you research the original film or see it, you will realize that the plot of this film is almost completely different. I don’t understand why this movie was created for an American audience when we have so many films like this already. It pretends to be a low budget shake-cam film in the beginning by looking low budget and gritty, but it just doesn’t work with how the film plays out. This is clearly one of those movies that just seems to exist with no reason to made other than to try to cash in on another countries successful film.

At the end of the day, Contraband isn’t really a bad movie, its just a horribly generic movie. Wahlberg plays the same character that you have seen in play several times before, the plot is as dull as it comes and is full of plot holes, and lastly, the film feels really long and uninspired. The few surprises that occur along the way are not shocking or even remotely surprising. Contraband is one of those movies that if you are bored one day and flipping through the channels and its on that you probably would watch, but to shell out money to see this anti-climatic and down right silly action thriller would not be a good way to spend your hard earned money and time.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Contraband is a 5 out of 10.

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