37. Contraband (R) Runtime: 109 minutes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
I really haven't seen a decent crime movie in a while. Not since The Town have I been truly mesmerized by the criminal underworld and have rooted for the bad guy trying to do right. Now I wouldn't say I was completely mesmerized by Wahlberg's Contraband, but I had a really good time despite its shortcomings.
The story involves a smuggler who has already gone clean but gets pulled back into the game when his stupid ass brother-in-law finds himself on the wrong end of a deal gone bad. Ribisi plays the pissed off drug lord/crime boss who comes looking for vengeance on the whole Wahlberg family (including his hot wife played by Beckinsale). Yada yada yada, Wahlberg goes in on a smuggling deal to redeem his family name and truly leave his past behind him. It's a very typical, by-the-books story and the movie does start off very slow. But once the plan hatches for them to go down and smuggle in counterfeit money, that's when the movie starts to gain traction.
I could not have cared less about Wahlberg's family - the movie tries really hard for us to care about them, but honestly, they just seemed like reasons for Wahlberg to smash car windows and make some great quotes with his trademark delivery - "You think you're the only guy with a gun?", "Takes money to make money." and "Say hello to your mother for me!" Okay, I made that last one up, but it really would have fit well into the movie if he delivered that line when he was threatening Ribisi.
Now the best part of these movies are the actual planning and execution of the heist and Contraband does this well. There's enough tension and suspense where you don't even know if they're going to pull off the heist. In fact, there's a crazy ass and completely unexpected car chase/shootout in the middle of the movie that seemed at the time really annoying, but looking back it made for some intense action. Wahlberg's family has such a throwaway side plot which could have been dumped from the movie. That whole family mess extended the movie past its prime. Plus, like I said earlier, I didn't really care at all what happened to his family. Which is funny because the whole plot revolves around Wahlberg making good on his promise to keep his family safe. Yawn!
All in all, it's a good action/suspense flick that definitely picks up steam after the first twenty minutes but kind of goes off the rails near the end. I just wanted the movie to end! But the movie's worth seeing for sure - the main action and heist is strong enough to carry the rest of the movie's annoyances. Bonus points for the movie poster where it looks like Wahlberg is trying to awkwardly scratch his back!
Rating: Rent It!