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Contraband

January 18, 2012

I love movies that can be summed up in one word. Contraband is “serviceable.” It is a blue-collar heist film that breezes along and is forgotten quickly.  You walk out of theater satisfied yet not impressed. The most memorable thing about the film is the odd poster.

The movie centers around Wahlberg doing one last heist because his brother-in-law got in trouble with local drug dealer played by an odd accented Giovanni Ribisi. Wahlberg leaves behind his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and teams up with a rag-tag crew in order to smuggle counterfeit money from Panama.

The movie has no high-tech gadgets or death-defying stunts. The job is surprisingly straight forward until it becomes convoluted with poor choices, twists and double crosses. New Orleans provides a suitably gritty city that matches the strange hand-held style that director Baltasar Kormakur infuses into the film. Coincidentely, Kormakur starred in the Icelandic original called Reykjavic-Rotterdam.

The biggest problem with the film is the expository dialogue. In the opening scene every character has their history explained through dialogue that you only hear in movies. An example is when Wahlberg is talking to his best friend Ben Foster.

“He is my best friend and was my best man. But, he was so drunk he doesn’t remember the reception. Good thing he is sober now.”

After you learn this a random guy walks up to the two and declares:

“You two were the best smugglers until you quit. How did you get that Ferrari into the states?”

Sidenote: Do smugglers declare their retirement? Is it common knowledge?

There is a lot of this dialogue. Later you see that Foster is in AA. Let the viewer find out by seeing rather than hearing. I understand the necessity of character but it shouldn’t feel lazy due to forced dialogue.

Ben Foster drives a sweet Ford F150 Raptor though. Everytime the truck was on screen I was instantly more attentive.

Rent Contraband, Watch Contraband, Use expository dialogue for the rest of the day.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2012 12:38 am

    There’s not a lot to think about while watching it and we’ve seen some of this plot before in other films, but for a movie opening in January, it’s actually pretty damn good thanks to a couple of cool heists and a relatively good cast. Nice review. Check out mine when you get the chance.

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