Chris (Mark Wahlberg) is the stereotypical ex-con, one of the greatest who has left behind the game for leading a legitimate life with his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and kids. However a botched up smuggling attempt by his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb-Landry Jones), leaves him in a spot of bother with a nasty thug, Tim (Giovanni Ribisi). Tim threatens Chris with dire consequences if the debt isnt paid and with no legitimate means of paying, Tim is forced to come out of retirement for one last smuggling run. Tims choice of goods is counterfeit money from Cuba which he plans to smuggle aboard Capt. Camps (J.K. Simmons) ship without his knowledge. Other than Tim & Andy, his team includes Danny (Lukas Haas) and a bunch of other motley crew members. Handling details back home while Tim makes the run is his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster). Things are never straight forward in these kinds of films, so there are double-crosses, twists and enough action sequences for your regulation action-heist flick.
A languid pacing holds the movie back from truly taking off. Far too much time is spent in setting up mundane back stories which ultimately have a poor pay-off even if compared to the original Icelandic version offer better motivations for the characters. The heist sequences lack any innovation but do manage to rack up the tension a notch or two thanks to some snazzy editing. The action sequences are run of the mill, except for a high-octane shootout during a armoured car robbery, which also has the single most glorious shot of the film, an absolutely gorgeous slow-motion explosion.
Kudos to the cinematographer for doing so much with a limited scope and this really gives the movie an edge over most of its similar ilk. The slickly shot canvas gives this cool, dirty and grimy look that accentuates the tone of the film. The background score on the other hand doesnt quite hold the edge.
Mark Wahlberg is serviceable in a role with a limited scope, Giovanni Ribisi tries desperately to chew on some scenery with a ridiculous accent while Ben Foster is solid as ever. J.K. Simmons gets most of the laughs in a small role while Diego Luna is wasted as a psychotic Cuban crime lord.
Contraband may not be the most perfectly paced or scripted movie but has some amount of ammunition to guarantee thats its worth a onetime watch at least, even if that watch is on DVD.view less