Contraband – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on January 27, 2012 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg
DIRECTOR – Baltasar Kormákur
WRITER – Aaron Guzikowski (screenplay), Arnaldur Indriðason and Óskar Jónasson for ‘Reykjavik-Rotterdam’
CAST – Mark WahlBerg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster
MUSIC – Clinton Shorter
Heist films are generally quickies, focused and to-the-point. Contraband keeps to its brief and serves up a delightfully tight, somewhat manipulative, a little complicated but intelligent crime caper that stays to the point.
It begins similarly as well. Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is an ex-smuggler who now works installing security alarms. He has a lovely wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale), two kids and a happy home. All of this comes under danger when Kate’s brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) drops a cocaine cargo he was running on a ship for fear of being caught. Now his boss Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) is baying for his blood, demanding the cargo’s worth of money while threatening to harm Kate and her children. Chris is forced to work out a short-cut to getting instant millions and he does but not before putting his wife and children in his friend, Sebastian’s (Ben Foster) guardianship. What follows not only involves fake notes, armoured car heists, drug-running on cargo ships but betrayal and murder.
The director, Baltasar Kormákur remakes the film from an Icelandic film titled ‘Reykjavík-Rotterdam’ (2008) starring himself. It is a race-to-the-finish sort of film that leaves little time to absorb any details more than necessary for the plot to move on. In a tightly narrated fashion it lays out the plan, the progression and growing stakes in equal measure and creates a fair amount of tension while doing it. The odds stalked against Chris are huge yet he, the eponymous, templat-ish, fearless heist-hero will pull through anything however bizarre for that stoic and unassailable love for his family. He is the all-protector of his vulnerable wife, children and here, brother-in-law too. There is little we get to know about him apart from this unnatural heroism except that he loves pulling off such jobs. That, again does little for the plot.
What does is the sharp cutting and edgy narrative, just about balancing the showing and telling of the plan and unfolding of the next development, keeping us summarily hooked to what happens next. For a crime thriller this is enough runs gained for winning the match. Obviously then, the film becomes a plot-based caper where characters do little than serve up the next thrill or curve and Wahlberg and Beckinsale play their roles strictly within these limits. The grainy, grungy visuals chalk up a gritty landscape that helps the film do what it sets out to do with determination – to keep having you ask, so what’s next?!
Does that make it good film? Well, it makes it a good well-spent two hours following the twisted terrains of crime at the movies.