Something for Kate
CONTRABAND ( MA15+)
★ ★ ★ ■
Director: Baltasar Korma ´ kur ( 101 Reykjavik) Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, J. K. Simmons
True men of steal
EARLY on in Contraband, it looks as if all that’s being smuggled past the authorities are cliches from other movies.
There’s ex- con Mark Wahlberg at a boozy wedding reception in a working men’s bar. All his pals are there. You’ve met them before, haven’t you?
Guys like The One Who Looks A Little Shifty When No One Else Is Looking, and The One Who Loves Life So Much He’ll Probably Be Dead Inside The Hour. Always good to have these guys around. No surprises with these guys.
While at the wedding, we also learn Wahlberg’s character Chris was once the best seafaring smuggler ever. He could sneak stuff in and out of any port in any country at will. But no, he ‘‘ don’t do dat no more’’. And, yes, he will be doing exactly just dat no sooner than the wedding is over. His young, dumb bro- in- law has got on the wrong side of some older, smarter crime lords.
About $ 700,000 is owed. It’s due in a fortnight. Kid don’t pay? Kid gets it. And so does his sister, Chris’s wife Kate ( Kate Beckinsale). Doors shall be kicked in. Windows broken. Nasty voicemails left around the clock. This is serious.
Only it isn’t. Not once Contraband really gets going, and shifts shape into a quite enjoyable mash- up of Tower Heist, Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job.
You can’t fault the work of the locations scouts for Contraband, either.
While Kate gets all anxious at home in New Orleans – and is paid regular visits by a wonkily menacing Giovanni Ribisi – Chris and his old smuggling entourage are hitching a ride on a big freighter down the Panama Canal.
Later, the gang is smacking heads and crashing cars all over Panama City.
It’s understandable, given they only have an hour or so to pick up their illicit cargo – $ 7 million in fake US greenbacks.
Though a truly throwaway pile of pulp entertainment, Contraband never stops trying to rouse a response from its target audience.
The no- frills, all- thrills approach of Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur ( who actually played the Wahlberg part in the original movie from which Contraband was adapted) is erratic, but really works when the pressure is on.
The only buzz- kill factor is when Kormakur overplays the violence directed Beckinsale’s way.
Some of these scenes go too far and ruin the sweaty, fretting atmosphere that builds and subsides so effectively elsewhere in the picture. Now showing Village Cinemas Making his mark: P6- 7