Since his breakout role in ‘Boogie Nights’ Mark Wahlberg has established himself as a dependable leading man.  Ever ready with a scowl and rugged demeanour he has come a long way from his early musical career.  ‘Contraband’ is a fine example of the serious persona he has created with the blend of action and drama suiting his talents.  Whilst it would be good for him to occasionally do something different his latest is a solid effort despite some silly contrivances.


Ex-smuggler Chris (Mark Wahlberg) works in the security business and lives with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and young children.  Believing his old ways are gone he receives a nasty shock when his brother-in-law Andy (Calbe Landry Jones) asks for help. On the run from dangerous mobster Tim (Giovanni Ribisi), Andy enlists Chris’ help in running a contraband scheme in order to pay off his debts.  With his family at stake and danger at every turn Chris’s skills become his most valuable asset.


Derived from the heist/thriller formula, ‘Contraband’ once again finds Wahlberg as a heroic underdog.  His character’s desperation in saving his family reflects the self-interest of those involved.  Using the situation for their own needs, Chris’ friends quickly become saints or sinners depending on how swiftly events unfold.  Adding much intrigue to a fairly routine story, their changing motivations and some genuinely tense sequences make for engaging viewing.


Directing this remake of a 2008 Icelandic film, Baltasar Kormakur maintains a steady pace.  He successfully generates a gritty atmosphere with the cinematography capturing the urban environs with ease.  Letting down these elements are some over the top performances and increasingly ludicrous plotting.  Unfortunately these take away from its authentic feel although the level of conviction from the main leads help.


‘Contraband’ is a straight up Wahlberg vehicle for his enduring fan-base.  You know exactly what you’ll receive with his movies with his latest benefitting from his rough presence.


Rating out of 10:  6

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