Cinema Review – Contraband
Contraband is set for release this weekend in UK, here is Teri’s thoughts on the film
Former bad guy turned family man goes bad again for one last time; it’s become something of a stock plot these days, hasn’t it? Formulatic as it may be, Contraband is surprisingly entertaining, even when it tries to be more clever than it truly is. And that’s the thing to keep in mind while watching this film from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur: it’s just a little bit ordinary.
The grunge and grit of New Orleans is laid on thick – sepia toned and soundtracked by an impressive array of roots and contemporary blues, it feels a little uniformed, but kudos to the cinematographer for some nice, industrial scenery; the camera work is distractingly shaky though, and far too conscious of itself. Sometimes, it’s best to leave the half-assed CSI treatment exactly where it belongs – on television.
Despite its artistic misgivings, the drama flows well; helmed by the admittedly hammy Mark Wahlberg as Chris, the smuggler-turned-good-guy-turned-smuggler-again, the story follows him as he aims to get his brother-in-law out of a sticky situation with a drug lord. His mission is to smuggle counterfeit bills from Panama, and of course he meets plenty of shady characters along the way. Characters played by a cast that forever had me sitting up straighter, internalizing a cry of ‘OH! It’s THAT guy from THAT THING!’; J.K. Simmons, Diego Luna, Caleb Landry Jones, Lukas Haas, Giovanni Ribisi. Then of course there’s Kate Beckinsale, who’s slightly less annoying than usual, and the excellent Ben Foster who never fails to steal a scene with his intensely focused presence. Please, someone, give this guy a starring role in a major Hollywood film. The world needs more of him.
Lead by this surprisingly impressive cast, it works. Yes, even with Mark Wahlberg as the glue. Who’da thunk it. Where it lost me was its backwards-and-forwards plot, and with that its inability to hold my attention. Midway through, I found myself wondering what was for dinner when I got home; forty-five minutes before the end, my attention was caught again.
All in all, Contraband is not a bad movie; it’s pretty far from it. Almost. With the tripe that I’ve seen over these past couple of weeks post-Oscars it’s come as a welcome distraction; it’s just not very new, and it never feels like it goes quite far enough to grasp full attention. With a paired down story with less frustrating turns, Contraband could have been a lot better. But hey, as it is, it could have been a hell of a lot worse, too.
CONTRABAND IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN UK ON 16TH MARCH 2012
About The Author – Teri Williams
Teri is a former film student from Edinburgh and currently works in book publishing in London. She is a fan of bad taste films, horror, fantasy, science fiction and vintage teen comedy and has been described by her friends as a “proper nerd” and a human imdb. She can be found speaking nonsense under the twitter name @msenidcoleslaw and scribbling similar nonsense on her blog Enid’s Revenge
Are you going to see this film? Is it your cup of tea? Comment below…