Contraband is a slick movie indeed – but its very slickness robs it of individuality. It's a machine tooled action thriller with all the component parts efficiently assembled and ready for business.
Stalwart hero? Wahlberg embodies the stereotype perfectly. Pretty victimised wife? Beckinsale is wasted as his beautiful beloved protecting their brood. Sleazy psychotic villain? Yep, who better than Ribisi? Where's the setting? The bulk of the narrative takes place on a cargo ship captained by bullish Simmons. Where's it going to? Panama, so Wahlberg and his wastrel brother-in-law (Jones) can indulge in acquiring counterfeit money? Why? 'Cos said wastrel is in hock to Ribisi and if he doesn't pay him back he'll be deaded. What else is smuggled back on the ship? Dirty drugs that's what. Who else is involved in this illegal business? Wahlberg's best friend, alcoholic Foster and crazy ganglord Luna. Are there lots of shoot 'em ups? You betcha. Is there much carnage and violence? Of course, all adeptly handled to be sure. Are there any great surprises? Don't be silly.
The editing is razor sharp and it keeps you on your toes but as the story grinds on it becomes more improbable. It's watchable enough but never altogether compelling. It has confidence to spare though and it certainly delivers on a visceral level but it's overall lack of personality makes it one to be forgotten swiftly. Entertaining but hardly original