Despite his muscles and claims that ‘I’m from the streets’ Mark Wahlberg seems a nice guy. Too nice to say no to dodgy crap like The Happening, The Lovely Bones and now Contraband, a film with aspirations of being this year’s Taken or Man on Fire.
Wahlberg plays Chris, a former shady type turned family man enjoying the straight and narrow, but dragged back into the worl’ after the wife’s (Kate Beckinsale) brother drops them right in it. This begs the question; would you risk your life to save some young doofus if it kept this woman happy?
Chris agrees with you, and shortly after finds himself back in the game to raise sufficient cash to placate the scrawny and heavily tatted Tim (Giovanni Ribisi) and his dangerous crew.
What ensues is blah blah blah shootouts, blah blah blah explosions and getaways, blah blah blah foreign countries and blah blah blah one good doublecross deserves another.
Amazingly enough Chris quickly remembers that the scungy world of sleazy crime is filled with scungy and sleazy criminals, some of whom begin menacing his family back home.
This brings the ethical conundrum that only is exacerbated as the film goes on. Once ‘good guy’ Chris unwillingly crosses the line back into the land of the lawless he becomes the film’s hero, no real probs there except that some of the bad guys are diligent and responsible law-abiders hoping to prevent major crime and drug dealers. According to the film though every second ship worker is a crook, and of course some authority figures equally dodgy.
The one strength of the film is that the cast is filled with authentic enough looking characters (read: ugly) who could just as easily be labourers, workers, ordinary guys or ne’er do wells, meaning that it isn’t just the obviously naughty guys who are eligible for the house special Wahlberg whippin that must inevitably come.
The moral of course is that crime pays… That’s at least what I took away.
Back to Taken and Man on Fire; Contraband is too dull to pretend to be the former – it even ignored a Taken-lite freak out of an ending, which would have partially redeemed it – and far too formulaic for the latter.
The result is that Contraband ends up being just like… that one with that guy… the one with the generic car chase… um, a bunch of films that I have already forgotten.
Don’t worry anonymous buddies, in a couple months and a few beers Contraband will join you on the faceless shelf at the DVD store alongside… every Rob Schneider film.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Just further proof that one decent name above the title and a good trailer can fool enough to guarantee we’ll cop more bland filler like this in the future.