Posts Tagged ‘Contraband’


MARK WAHLBERG leads the cast as Chris Farraday in ?Contraband?, a white-knuckle action-thriller about a man trying to stay out of a world he worked hard to leave behind and the family he?ll do anything to protect.In the New Orleans-set crime thriller “Contraband” Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, a reformed-criminal-turned-loving-father forced to do the proverbial one last job when his brother-in-law Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) runs afoul of a local gangster (Giovanni Ribisi). To square the deal and pay-off Andy’s debt Chris agrees to go back into his old line of work—smuggling contraband goods. In this case he must illegally transport millions of dollars in counterfeit bills. But can he navigate around the police, ruthless drug lords and double crosses to keep Andy and his family safe?

It used to be that January was the dumping ground for movies that the studios thought nobody wanted to see. It is usually the domain of movies like “Bloodrayne” and bad Freddie Prinze Jr. rom coms, the kind of movies that hover around the 2% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But “Contraband” is actually a pretty good thriller. It’s not brilliant, but it’s better than the spelling challenged “Thr3e” which was released this time a few years ago.

It succeeds mainly because Wahlberg can play both a believable badass and concerned family man, usually in the same scene. Maybe it’s art imitating life—Wahlberg has a checkered past, but is now a devout Catholic and family man—but that dichotomy makes “Contraband’s” unbelievable smuggling scheme easier to swallow. He’s fun to watch because he’s unpredictable, nuzzling the kids one minute, shoving the muzzle of gun in a bad guy’s face the next.

The rest of the movie isn’t as unpredictable, but it is entertaining. Fast paced—except for a brief mid-movie dip—it has some good action scenes, a suitably high body count and some over-the-top work from Giovanni Ribisi. Between the scene chewing here and his work in “The Rum Diary” Ribisi is proving himself to be the hungriest actor in Hollywood next to Nic Cage.

Less interesting are some of the supporting characters. Ben Foster, a fine but typecast actor, really needs to break away from the deadbeat kind of characters he’s been playing lately. More work like his heartrending performance in “The Messenger” please and less like paint-by-number creepy guys he plays in movies like “The Mechanic” and “Contraband.”

Even more disheartening is Kate Beckinsale who is relegated to the damsel in distress role. You’d think after kicking werewolf butt in four “Underworld” movies she’d be able to defend herself by now.

“Contraband” may not be edge of your seat stuff, but it is at least middle of your seat entertainment, and a whole lot better than the usual January fare.

Good box office vibes In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: January 11, 2012

contraband“I’ve always looked at my career as an athlete would look at his,” said Mark Wahlberg, star of this weekend’s thriller Contraband. “I won’t play forever. Some don’t know when to walk away, but the smart ones do.”

Wahlberg has proven himself to be one of the smart ones. In a career that dates back 20 years, he has moved from strength to strength.

His first taste of success came as the titular lead rapper of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Their 1991 hit Good Vibrations was a highpoint, but just two years later, Wahlberg walked away, leaving the Funky Bunch to fend for themselves.

Streamlining the Marky Mark moniker to his birth name, he took on his first role in front of the camera (that is if you don’t count his short lived career as an underwear model for Calvin Klein). Roles in The Basketball Diaries (opposite his future The Departed star Leonardo DiCaprio) and Fear, where he played what one writer called “a teenaged Travis Bickle” got him notice, but it was Boogie Nights that made him a movie star.

The role of Dirk Diggler, a naïve man with physical charms sucked into the dark underbelly of the 1970s Californian porn industry, showed his range (among other things) but he wasn’t the first choice for the role. DiCaprio was offered the part but turned it down because he was already committed to Titanic. He suggested his Basketball Diaries co-star Wahlberg.

The movie was a hit, but a certain prosthetic got almost as much attention as Wahlberg’s performance. He still has the 13-inch rubber prop, which he keeps in a safe at his mother’s home, otherwise, he says, “mom would… put it on the end of her Dustbuster thinking it came with the vacuum cleaner.”

Since then Three Kings, The Perfect Storm, The Italian Job, Shooter, We Own the Night, Planet of the Apes and Four Brothers have all been box office hits. His work in The Departed brought him the best notices of his career to date plus an Oscar nomination and The Fighter (which he also produced) was an artistic triumph.

Despite all the spot-on choices, like many actors he’s turned down some important roles. Can you imagine him as Linus in Ocean’s 11? Or how about Brokeback Mountain? That part went to Jake Gyllenhaal, who earned an Oscar nod for his work.