“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Baltasar Kormákur / Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, J K Simmons ... / DVD released 2012-07-09 at Universal Pictures UK / Features of the DVD: PAL „
Having bought my husband several DVD's for Christmas I thought I would start reviewing the ones we have watched. I have been keeping a pile on my Amazon Wishlist and buying them as they get cheaper. I seem to think I paid £3 for this one, a while ago but its currently retailing at £5.93 and delivered free on Amazon currently.
My husband prefers gritty thriller type movies and as Mark Wahlberg has been in several films he enjoyed, such as Planet of the apes, Italian job, Shooter, Departed, Date night, although we did start to watch Max Payne on terrestrial telly recently and quickly gave up. So when I saw this movie "contraband" I thought it was worth a watch, being described as a "fast-paced thriller about a man trying to stay out of a world he worked so hard to leave behind and the family he'll do anything to protect".
The film lasts 110 minutes, was released in January 2012 and then out on DVD in April 2012. It was Directed by Baltasar Kormákur, Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Stephen Levinson And Mark Wahlberg
The cast list includes;
Mark Wahlberg as Chris Farraday
Kate Beckinsale as Kate Farraday
Ben Foster as Sebastian Abney
Caleb Landry Jones as Andy
Giovanni Ribisi as Tim Briggs
Lukas Haas as Danny Raymer
J. K. Simmons as Captain Redmond Camp
Diego Luna as Gonzalo
Robert Wahlberg as John Bryce
Jaqueline Fleming as Jeanie Goldare
William Lucking as Bud Farraday
David O'Hara as Jim Church
Kirk Bovill as Crewman
Viktor Hernandez as Edwin
The film is set in New Orleans, where Farraday is now very happily married with 2 children, having turned his back on a previous life of crime, working in his security business. In the opening scenes, we see his brother in law nearly caught for smuggling drugs but saving himself by throwing his package into the sea. Thus putting himself at the mercy of his drug lord boss. We see Farraday struggling to help his brother in law, and with the help of his best friend, Sebastian, choosing to do that "last job" and sets off for Panama.
There is a mixed bag of reviews online, with a rotten tomato score of 51%. It has a 4 star rating on Amazon.
Whilst a fairly predictable, done before, storyline, there were a few interesting twists that keep it interesting and an enjoyable watch.
The quality of the cast, the scenery and the plot provides a good entertaining film which is well worth a watch and so with this in mind I am rating it as a 4 star film. However I personally would wait for it to drop to £3 again before purchasing.
Star - Mark Wahlberg
Genre - Action
Certificate - 18
Run Time - 109 minutes
Country - USA
Blockbuster Rental- £0.99P per night
Amazon -£3.00 DVD (£7.00 Blue Ray)
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So Contraband, the debut Hollywood film of Baltasar Kormákur, he of the rather atmospheric thriller Jar City, Contraband based on the original Icelandic film, Reykjavik-Rotterdam, where the very same director played the same leading actor role as Mark Wahlberg in the movie.
Although pitched as a crime flick it's more a vehicle for the always likeable Mark Wahlberg to do his blue collar tough guy next door routine and so the ending never in doubt. He is one of those actors you always give the benefit of the doubt for his unconventional Hollywood looks and down to earth delivery. His better films are dismissed, like Shooter and Invincible, his 'acting movies' that earn the plaudits, like Fighter and Boogie Nights, rather dull. He is one of those actors that make the movie his with his imploring style to the viewer, regardless of the subject matter. Few actors could make Contraband work.
= = = Cast = = =
Mark Wahlberg ... Chris Farraday
Kate Beckinsale ... Kate Farraday
Ben Foster ... Sebastian Abney
Giovanni Ribisi ... Tim Briggs
Lukas Haas ... Danny Raymer
Caleb Landry Jones ... Andy
Diego Luna ... Gonzalo
J.K. Simmons ... Captain Camp
David O'Hara ... Jim Church
William Lucking ... Bud Farraday
= = = The Plot = = =
Ex smuggler Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) has given up the family business and now runs a home security company with his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale), fitting CCTV and house alarms etc. But the bad old days return when Chris's young brother-in-law Lukas (Danny Raymer) decides to do some smuggling of his own and soon bungles the job, having to throw the clients dope overboard when the DEA raid the ship. But the boss wants his dope back, or funds to the tune of, sending his goon Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) to deliver a warning to Lukas he is going to get whacked if he doesn't recover it or reimburse them for £300,000.
The only man who can make it right with Briggs is Chris, Kate insisting he bail out her baby brother, hubby an expert in this line of work, the plan, with the help of ex smuggling partner Sebastian (Ben Foster), to smuggle counterfeit money in from Panama through the port of New Orleans.
Getting a crew together it's one last job time to settle with Briggs and make a few quid for himself. But on board is Captain Camp (J.K. Simmons), familiar with Farradays work, the operation underway, Farraday known to most sea captains on the highs seas, but the plan soon unraveling in Panama as the goods are not up to scratch.
Back home it's also getting complex and rather tense, a double-cross underway and threats to Farradays vulnerable wife and family if he doesn't take the new merchandise forced upon him in Panama, goods that could get him life in prison.
= = = Results = = =
Although brainless and full of holes its good fun. The twists are obvious, as are the turncoats, poor old Giovanni Ribisi again cast as the seedy villain, never handsome enough to get good roles, his second film with Wahlberg, Ted the other. For its $40 million it did an ok $66 million back, Wahlberg fans turning out to the multiplexes profit enough. At times you scream at the TV - 'come on, that wouldn't happen! But most of the time you just go with it as another fist full of popcorn is scooped up and crammed into your mouth.
It has good production values and tempo and the New Orleans locations add an extra visual texture to proceedings although clearly gets muddled at the end as it becomes a silly heist movie, increasingly preposterous scenarios adding hilarity as well as tension. But, again, its good fun and so who cares, Wahlberg always charismatic on screen with his macho buddy thriller performances and female appeal. It's the sort action thriller girls would enjoy on DVD, nudging their boyfriend's ribs on why exactly can't you be like Mark Wahlberg? The answer, of course, is this is a movie, the reality and routine that help boyfriends keep girls safe being very boring, unlike like this popcorn movie that is worth every penny of the 99p on Blockbusters cheap rack.
= = = = RATINGS = = = =
Imdb.com - 6.4/10.0 (68,657votes)
Metacrtic.com - 51% critic's approval
Rottentomatos.com - 52% critic's approval
= = = = Special Features = = = =
- Reality Factor: The Stunts of Contraband-
Behind the scenes look at the action sequences.
Director and producer discuss their film.
= = = = Critics = = = =
Guardian -'It's a thriller in which the twists become so absurd that it becomes a kind of caper, but without the humour'.
Film4 -'It is criminal that a director of Kormakur's talent should make the run from the gloomy authenticity of Jar City to this bland Hollywood fare'.
Little White Lies -'Needlessly convoluted subplots and crummy supporting characters suffocate the Farraday dynamic'.
The Examiner -'It may not exactly be an original story, but when a little effort is put into a film like this, it can be done pretty well'.
This is London -'How this confused and mediocre heist-cum-action movie reached - albeit briefly - the top spot in the US box-office ratings passes all understanding'.
The Daily Mail -'Gritty, slick and maybe a bit too serious, Contraband may be predictable, but it is solid action entertainment'
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Being a bit of a fan of Mark Wahlberg, I usually actively try and see his films on release rather than waiting till the opportunity finds me so when Contraband was released I thought it was right up my street. My favourite genre of films are thriller / suspense films so I knew I'd love this.
Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, a nice guy who works hard running his own business installing security alarms in New Orleans. He seems to have it all, the nice house, the pretty wife Kate (played by Kate Beckinsale) and two young sons. It isn't immediately apparent but you do find out pretty quickly that Farraday is actually an ex smuggler who was a master of his craft. Things plod along nicely until Kate's younger brother Andy gets himself caught up in Farradays old business and ends up owing the wrong guys when he is forced to drop some smuggled drugs into the Mississippi river when US Customs make a surprise visit. Unfortunately for Farraday, Andy is only young (around 19 / 20) and is unable to get himself out of the situation so the bad guys come knocking on Farraday's door bringing the problem to him and his family if he doesn't sort it. It rang a little here of Gone in 60 Seconds: the protagonist seeking the cliché of 'one last hit' to make all their troubles go away.
The bad guys demand Farraday repays $700,000 to settle the score and the only way Farraday knows how to raise that kind of money is to return to smuggling for one last big hit. Forced onto a cargo ship, Farraday heads to Panama in order to find something valuable worth smuggling. I quite liked that the Directors had chosen to use Panama and New Orleans, which I thought were original and seemed to work well throughout the film.
The film is extremely clever. I normally guess the outcome of most films, how they're going to do it, etc but Contraband left me guessing to the very end. There is lots of cat and chase moments so it's full of suspense as Farraday was a well-known smuggler, the best in the business, so as soon as his name comes on the ships manifest he is on the Captains radar. He also has a run in with a psychotic drug dealer along the way which totally hits his plans for six so it really is quite fast paced and full of suspense, and a side story of his run in has a clever little twist in the end.
The acting is excellent, Wahlberg always impresses me, even though I sometimes can't help but see him gyrating around topless singing away! He's certainly not at the top of his game though in this, but I don't think he'll ever beat his part in Fighter. Kate Beckinsale is also brilliant in this. It took me about half an hour to even recognise it was her as she has blonde hair in Contraband and looks very washed out. Giovanni Ribisi plays the bad guy and he is actually pretty scary in this! He played Phoebes weird brother in Friends - Frank. There are also a few others that you may recognise if you watch a lot of films but these three stood out for me.
The film does have a few surprises along the way, such as who is the true bad guy and the ending is pretty fast paced. I squeaked and squealed a few times as its one of those... will he make it kind of scenes. It isn't particularly original, it has all been done before but to be honest 90% of films out there are just the same so I would recommend this film, it's a good watch with a good cast.