Can you guess what’s this movie about? Yes, you’re right, Contraband is a movie about smuggling. It’s actually a remake of the Icelandic sleeper hit Reykjavik-Rotterdam also directed by Baltasar Kormakur. This is why this standard-issue thriller featuring a standard-issue story will still feel a bit different. And dare I say refreshing. We will be following Chris Farraday, an expert smuggler who’s finally enjoying his retirement when he hears the call of duty again. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in as the old saying goes.
At first, I thought that Mark Wahlberg was an odd choice for the lead but he was surprisingly good. Unlike tired and uninterested Kate Beckinsale. Luckily, the entire supporting cast led by Ribisi, Landry Jones, and Foster was there to make up for that. Contraband features an excellent atmosphere with a lot of intense and nerve-wracking moments. Will he make it or will he not? The structure and the storytelling reminded me of all those classic eighties crime movies. There’s something so satisfying about them.
Especially when they start getting into the technical details of a sea-bound smuggling operation. This is how all the cocaine is smuggled not just into North America but also the entire Europe. And it’s fascinating to see how the whole smuggling operation works. Additionally, the characters are so well-developed that you kind of want to see them pull off this thing even if it’s illegal. And on top of it all, we have all the obligatory twists and turns. They keep this thrilling thriller going right up until the glorious finale.
Chris Faraday is a retired smuggler who is enjoying his crime-free life with his beautiful wife. However, as always, trouble comes unexpectedly (and it probably involves a woman) as his brother-in-law fucks up his smuggling run and now owes a lot of money that he doesn’t have to some very dangerous people. Chris decides to help him, involving himself and his family in something that could cost all of them their lives.
I don’t want to tell you what Chris will be smuggling but let’s just say it’s something that’s very popular in Latin America. And no, it’s not cocaine. So, the story in this movie, although it’s not based on true events, still rings true. Basically following one very important smuggling mission, Contraband is a lean and mean thriller. It struggles with storytelling that’s all over the place. And this is why I think it would be better if they focused squarely on the mission and forgot all about that drama back home.