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Carl the Critic: Reviews "Contraband" [Caution: Contains Plot Spoilers]

Updated on June 8, 2012


Oh Mark Wahlberg, how you fascinate me so. You pull off great performances in films such as “The Departed”, “Fear”, “The Italian Job”, and “The Fighter” but you also pull off some horrible performances in films such as “Planet of the Apes”, “The Happening” and “Max Payne”. It seems like there are films where he exceeds expectations in his performance, and then there are times where he is just not very good. So how well does he do in “Contraband”?

Well before I get into that first a little background information on the film. The film is based on an Icelandic film called “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” (2008). The film had an all-star Icelandic cast and is considered to be “one of the biggest-budget Icelandic films of all-time”. I guess the film was such a huge hit that Hollywood decided to remake it (oh gee, like they’ve never done that before). Mark Wahlberg was signed on to produce it as well as play the lead role, and the “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” film’s lead role actor, Baltasar Kormákur, was brought on to direct the film. So was it worth Hollywood taking another foreign film and remaking it? Well let’s talk about the story.


A boy named Andy is forced to dump his $700,000 worth of drugs off a cargo ship in order to avoid being arrested which results in our film’s gangster, Tim Briggs, to get really pissed and puts Andy into the Hospital. Andy’s sister, Kate (played by the very attractive Kate Beckinsale) and brother-in-law, Chris (played by Mark Wahlberg) visits him in the hospital, and Chris seeks out Briggs. Briggs tells Chris in that he needs to be paid back $700,000 in two weeks, and Chris, giving this about a day’s worth of thought, realizes that the only way to get such money is by smuggling.


This film was a lot of fun for me, I wouldn’t exactly call it a “good” film but there are parts about it that I find enjoyable. The story is engaging at times, the acting is mostly good, there are some awesome action scenes, I felt the pacing was overall good, and the music matched the tone of the film perfectly.

Now that the good is out of the way, let’s get to the bad. Although the story can be engaging at times, it’s not without its faults, most notably that there are so many coincidences. In addition to that, there are scenes where Chris visits his father in prison to get information about the smuggling his father did, which I found to be pointless because I’m sure that Chris could have found a boat of his own to smuggle on. The dialogue is full of obscenities (a problem that I find a lot of my readers have with movies), which range from naturally spoken to down right hilarious but never the less there is a lot of swearing.

Another major problem was cinematography, which although it wasn’t always bad, there were some pretty embarrassing moments. For example, remember the scene I mention earlier about Chris visiting his father in prison? It was mostly hand-held, and the camera, for whatever reason, kept zooming in and out of Chris’s father’s face almost like the cameraman was drunk. There were also moments where the camera was out of focused on the main subject of the scene but would at the last minute be pull focus (which was obviously not done on purpose, because the image started out not focused on anything at all). This isn’t the worst cinematography I’ve seen in a movie (the film “Grace” still wins that award) but there were moments that were just inexcusable.

This is a film that is at least trying to be a good movie, and has good elements to it, but this is just a “fun” movie. A lot like the modern day “Sherlock Holmes” films, this is not meant to be taken too seriously. This film can be enjoyable, especially for those who are huge Mark Wahlberg fans, because everyone who goes to see this film knows exactly what to expect.


If you are a huge fan or Mark Wahlberg, I highly recommend checking this movie out; he’s very good in this. So are many of the other actors, like Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, and others. I had fun with this one you might too. I give “Contraband” a 7.9 out of 10.


None of main characters die in this film (there is a kid who initially helped Andy with the drug smuggling, and a couple of gangsters but that's really it) but there are a few spoilers that are worthy to note if you feel like skipping out on this film.

1. Sebastian, one of Chris’s friends in the movie, is a traitor, who is working with Briggs. Sebastian is being threatened by this Scottish gangster who threatens to kill Sebastian if he doesn’t get the money that he owes him for funding his construction business.

2. Kate and her children were initially under the care of Sebastian after some gangsters came to her home and terrorize her family. Sebastian however makes it quite clear that he is a creeper so Kate to a friend’s house for protection. Forgetting a few of the children’s things, Kate goes to Sebastian’s house to try to get them back. Just as she is about to leave, Sebastian stops her, chases her to the bathroom, and knocks her into… I think it was a bathtub, but whatever it was, she hits her head at such great force that she is knocked unconscious. Fearing that he had killed her, Sebastian tries to dispose of Kate’s body and cell phone, by dumping it in a hole that’s suppose to be filled with cement. Kate however is really not dead; she’s just knocked into a coma, which is strange how Sebastian didn’t even bother to check Kate’s pulse, he just thinks, “Oh shit! I see blood, that must mean she’s dead.” Fortunately, Chris goes to the construction site well aware of Sebastian’s betrayal, and wants to know where his wife is. He eventually calls her cellphone, which dumbass Sebastian made the mistake of burying the cellphone WITH the body, and so Chris finds Kate and gets her to the hospital, where she survives.

3. Chris takes a ton of counterfeit money to the Scottish gangster, who pays $3 million for it. Then out of an act of wanting to have some polite chatter, the Scottish gangster brings up the fact that a Jackson Pollok painting was stolen from Panama, which if sold on the black market can be worth $20 million. Chris and the boys have the stolen painting (they got it from a gang of thugs who initially stole it first), and they get all excited about getting $20 million and that’s basically the ending of the movie.

What about you?

If you saw "Contraband" what did you think?

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"Contraband" on Bluray and DVD, great deals on


Carl the Critic © 2012


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    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      @PDXKaraokeGuy: Yeah they reminded me of that film too. Thanks for commenting :)

      @writer20: Yeah I heard everyone say that about that film. Thanks for commenting :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Saw Albert Nobbs today only because Glenn Close. She played a great part, other than that itwas so slowww.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      i really liked walhberg in shooter. The previews for this film remind me of that...

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      Thank you Alecia, glad you liked the review, thanks for commenting :)

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I like Mark Wahlberg and his brother, Donnie. They aren't the best actors but they seem to really enjoy what they do and they seem to be great siblings as well.

      That being said, I agree that he does a great movie every few years followed by a string of duds but it works since they are great popcorn fare. Great review!

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      @Just Ask Susan: I appreciate the comment, and I think it's a good idea to check it out on cable or a renting media if you are not entirely sure. Thanks again :)

      @drbj: Thank you, and I'm glad you agree. I agree that it is a very exciting film, and Mark Wahlberg is well casted (but I guess being the producer kinda helps with the casting process) even for the issues I had with the story and cinematography. Thanks again :)

      @writer20: I appreciate the comment thanks for stopping by :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Went to see contraband today and I thought it was very good.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

      Action films are among my favorites, Carl, so of course I saw this film and your review is spot on. Mark is well cast but the movie has many inconsistencies. Still it was exciting to watch. Thanks for this neat review.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I think I'll wait for this one to come to cable. Good review and I'll trust what you've said about this film.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 6 years ago

      lol I agree, I think it's Damsel in Distress syndrome too :) Thank you very much Linda, I appreciate the comment.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Carl It was like you were in my head while you were writing this review!!! I don't know what Kate was thinking going back to Sebastian's place alone. I was shaking my head at her!! Why do women always have to be saved?! The damsel in distress syndrome?!

      It was a great movie and I'd watch it again. For free:)

      Voted UP and awesomeness!!