Some­thing for Kate

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RE­VIEW

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

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