Cast: Chris Faraday (Mark Wahlberg), Kate Faraday (Kate Beckinsdale), Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster), Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Danny Raymer (Lukas Haas), Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), Gonzalo (Diego Luna), Captain Camp (J. K. Simmons)
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Theatrical release: 01/13/2012 DVD Date: 04/24/2012
Rating: R Running Time: 109 minutes
Note(s): Based on the film Reykjavik-Rotterdam by Arnaldur Indriđason and Óskar Jónasson.
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Review: Baltasar Kormákur directs a remake of the 2008 Icelandic crime thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam, a film he starred in as the Mark Wahlberg character in this version. The storyline is a familiar one: Former smuggler Chris Faraday (Wahlberg), now a family man with a wife and children, must return to his old ways to help out his brother-in-law, whose botched run has put the whole family in danger.
Faraday needs to come up with $700,000 — fast — and the only way he can see getting it is to smuggle something of value into the country. He refuses to do drugs, so settles on counterfeit currency. He assembles a team and heads to Panama using some of his imprisoned father's old connections. The return to New Orleans is anything but simple, with plenty of close calls and near misses to keep the excitement level elevated.
For the most part, this thriller works. There are few irrelevant tangential subplots and it is well, if at times a bit aggressively, paced. Where it falls down is during the middle third, when Faraday is in Panama and — not unexpectedly — things go wrong. There's a reason why they go wrong, and while the whole premise of having Faraday do an impromptu job is nicely plotted — at least on paper — the execution of what happens next is particularly clumsy. Fortunately, it seems as if the director realizes this may be the weakest element of the film as well so breezes by it all as if it were planned this way from the start, minimizing any overall damage to the film.
Wahlberg makes for an engaging central character, and while he is not without fault himself — indeed, there are really no "good guys" in this film — he makes you want to see him come out of this with more than he went into it. I enjoyed Contraband for what it was, an entertaining action thriller with an added twist or two to keep things interesting.