Directed by Baltasar Kormákur. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Diego Luna, JK Simmons 15A cert, general release, 110 min
DID SOMEBODY say One Last Big Score? Family man Chris (Mark Wahlberg) is a former super-smuggler with a winsome wife (Kate Beckinsale), moppet offspring and a “retirement” gig installing security systems.
All is well until Chris’s brother- in-law botches an international shipment belonging to moustache- twirling Giovanni Ribisi, who turns up with an affected New Orleans drawl and grandiloquent menace. In order to appease the madman, our hero makes for Panama to see even madder Diego Luna about some counterfeit bills. Heist scenes and complications ensue. They’re doing what now?
Baltasar Kormákur, the talent behind Jar City and 101 Reykjavík, directs this zippy remake of his own 2008 Icelandic film (Reykjavík-Rotterdam) with commendable abandon. Who knew that there were so many places to hide and things to do aboard a container ship? Who knew it was so easy to go on a crime spree through Panamanian streets? The results are chaotic, ramshackle fun – provided one doesn’t dwell on the “and then, and then” plot mechanics or the final botched punchline.
Cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt Locker) almost papers over the cracks with a grungy running man aesthetic. Wahlberg makes for robust company and a solid everyman hero. Contraband succeeds as an action product because, not despite, it is rough around the edges: the crazy non-sequiturs seem to belong with the far- fetched plot twists and Wahlberg’s colourful strings of profanities. Picture Ocean’s Eleven without the Clooney slick.
A-Team rules apply: this is a gore-free zone that, in common with ye Lethal Weapon movies of yore, yokes family values to gunplay. If it was good enough for the Team, it’s good enough for us.