Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is a former smuggler who has given up his life of crime and is living in New Orleans with his wife and two young sons. When his brother-in-law falls foul of a master smuggler, Chris is pulled back in to the world he has left behind.
There is nothing outstanding about Contraband. It is set in one of the most intriguing places in the world – New Orleans – but we actually see very little of the city and what makes it outstanding, other than it’s status as a busy port. Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday, an ex smuggler who has gone legit. Farraday is Wahlberg’s usual soft-spoken tough guy who will do anything to get back to his family. Giovanni Ribisi plays an over the top gangster smuggler who forces Farraday to go back on the seas, Ben Foster plays a family friend with a secret and Kate Beckinsale is Kate, Farraday’s wife. Even though the film boasts an impressive cast, none of the characters or performances are particularly noteworthy. By now, most people will know whether they like Mark Wahlberg or not, and in this film he is very much playing to type.
The film suffers from pacing issues throughout; the moments we would like to see more of rush past the screen, and those which really don’t matter too much are the ones that linger. The film is neither an action movie nor a smart thriller, as it doesn’t seem to be able to choose a genre and stick to it. The heists are predictable and easy to see coming, and even though everything that could go wrong does go wrong, Mark Wahlberg’s character walks away with no repercussions.
In all, Contraband is a decent movie that has some good ideas that do not really play out on screen. There is a good movie in there somewhere and the premise is a clever one, but the film is let down by predictable characters and plot and not being able to stick to a genre. It’s not the worst film, but it is overwhelmingly average.