Based on his own “Reykjavik-Rotterdam,” director Baltasar Kormakur’s new action thriller “Contraband” fails to deliver the action and suspense viewers may expect.
The film follows Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), a former crook who acquires a security installation company and hesitantly falls back into his favorite line of work: smuggling. Farraday is forced to go on a trip from New Orleans to Panama to pick up some funny money to save his brother-in-law’s life. While on the trip, drug lord Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) tortures Farraday’s wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and their two sons.
While the torture was most likely meant to add urgency and drive to Wahlberg’s character, it occurred one too many times and had little effect on the outcome of the plot. To remind Farraday of what he has at stake, Briggs visits Kate and her two sons at their New Orleans home with two large, armed men. The physical damage and pain the family endures, while somewhat realistic, was distasteful and brutal. As the torment continued, it was rendered ineffective for the story.
The acting, however, remained compelling. Veteran actors Wahlberg, Beckinsale and Ribisi brought the film to life and made it enjoyable. The chemistry between Wahlberg and Beckinsale was believable and added a heartening layer to the whole film. Wahlberg takes on the softer character, Chris, whose children’s lives are at stake — a refreshing change from the many tough-guy personae he has played.
Kormakur managed to fuse this action film with a love story that shows what a man would give up and accomplish to save his family. Farraday exhibits his passion for smuggling many times throughout the film, but the point was clearly made that his family comes before any risky heist.
While the love between Chris and Kate is evident, the history of their relationship is never revealed. This is also true for the relationships between Farraday and his partners in crime; all that is known is that they’ve worked together before. Therefore, the lack of back-story takes away from the stakes at hand.
“Contraband” may hold tight to the audience’s attention, but comes loose with a lackluster script.
“Contraband” was directed by Baltasa Kormakur and written by Aaron Guzikowski, Arnaldur Indriðason and Oskar Jonasson.