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Contraband (Blu-ray Review)

20 Apr, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 4/24/12
Box Office $66.53 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use.
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones.

Contraband is the type of action movie you want to like. It features international locations (OK, the back alleys of Panama), Hollywood’s favorite adopted city — New Orleans — and an appealing cast.

Lead Mark Wahlberg is incapable of making a bad movie these days it seems — his boyish Boston charm — like Matt Damon’s — aging nicely.

That charm is put to the test early when Wahlberg, playing ex-smuggler Chris — who is married to sexy soccer mom Kate (Kate Beckinsale, in a perfunctory role) — suddenly finds himself having to clean up her brother’s mess of a botched cocaine delivery.

With the brother’s life on the line unless $750,000 in lost contraband is repaid pronto to an exceedingly mean thug named Briggs (always effective Giovanni Ribisi), Chris assembles a motley crew capable of smuggling a container of counterfeit $100 bills from Panama to New Orleans.

Briggs — as most slimes do — ups the ante by physically threatening Kate and the kids. To safeguard the family while shipbound, Chris puts them up with construction buddy Sebastian (Ben Foster), who naturally is in cahoots with Briggs.

The action heats up considerably — and implausibly — after Chris & Co. find the counterfeit contact, realize the pallet of bills isn’t printed on the correct paper, and must secure another shipment of bills from a third party  whose location they don’t even know. The third party then demands payment in the form of assisting in the robbery of an armored delivery truck. Why? Because Kate’s brother took the original cash to buy cocaine so Briggs wouldn’t kill his sister’s kids. Naturally, the robbery goes bad, resulting in a shoot-out with local authorities.

It goes without saying the story is a massive stretch. But Wahlberg makes you believe. Bonus material showcases behind-the-scenes stuff, in addition to a featurette with cast and crew extolling the virtues of working with Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur, who starred in the original 2008 movie Reykjavik-Rotterdam, upon which this one is based.

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