Director Baltasar Kormákur’s Contraband – a remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam – reads as being somewhat of a Noir thriller about a man (Mark Wahlberg) who is drawn back into his former (destructive) life of illegal smuggling.
However, the official Contraband trailer teases much of a popcorn thriller – complete with menacing villains who have goofy facial hair and a high-stakes-heist-oriented plot that looks to be more reminiscent of the 2003 Italian Job remake (which also starred Wahlberg) than anything else.
While Kormákur and his Contraband scriber (newcomer Aaron Guzikowski) aren’t exactly household names, the film has quite the noteworthy cast – which includes stars like Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale (the Underworld series), Ben Foster (The Mechanic), Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar), Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class), Luke Haas (Inception), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), and Robert Wahlberg (Mystic River).
Here is the official synopsis for Contraband:
Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy (Jones), botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Ribisi), Chris is forced back into doing what he does best—running contraband—to settle Andy’s debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian (Foster), to head to Panama and return with millions in counterfeit bills. Things quickly fall apart and with only hours to reach the cash, Chris must use his rusty skills to successfully navigate a treacherous criminal network of brutal drug lords, cops and hit men before his wife, Kate (Beckinsale), and sons become their target.
Now have a look at the Contraband trailer (via Yahoo! Movies) below:
Wahlberg continues to occupy the “tough guy with a heart of gold” niche with Contraband, which looks to have its fair share of decent action set pieces (shootouts, explosions, etc.) – not to mention, tried-and-true plot twists and stock characters (see: Wahlberg’s good-natured team of specialists) that often show up in heist thrillers.
The trailer footage is pretty Wahlberg-focused, so we don’t get to see much of generally-solid types like Foster or Simmons; at least Ribisi appears to be having fun, delivering a fittingly hammy performance as the film’s villain. It’s just too bad that Beckinsale doesn’t get to do much here, other than look pretty and vulnerable – the actress’ fans will have to go and see Underworld: Awakening (which arrives in theaters just a week after Contraband), should they want to catch Beckinsale in badass mode.
That’s all to say: Contraband doesn’t exactly look like a memorable thrill ride, with (at best) satisfactory direction and decent execution of many familiar action movie tropes. However, if the film turns out to be a surprise hit, then that will be all the more reason to get excited about Kormákur’s (supposedly) next project: the violent ancient world thriller, Viking.
Contraband is scheduled for theatrical release in the U.S. on January 13th, 2012.
Source: Yahoo! Movies