The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Wahlberg’s attempt at bullish crime film does not hit target

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

The commercials for Contraband allude to a movie in which Marky Mark runs around screaming “Look at me! I’m going by Mark Wahlberg now!” set to bad rap, but that’s not the product that was released.

The story begins with Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) dumping a shipment of cocaine into the ocean in the face of customs officers, much to the chagrin of the buyer, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi). Andy is hospitalized, and his brother-in-law, Chris Farraday (Wahlberg), a master smuggler who’d retired years earlier, assumes his debt. Farraday’s method of payment quickly escalates from smuggling counterfeit cash to smuggling drugs to robbing an armored vehicle with a Panama drug lord.

As far as January movies go, Contraband isn’t the worst thing in the world. It doesn’t play like a Wahlberg vehicle at all, and the supporting cast of Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, J.K. Simmons and Ribisi all have significant parts.

The striking feature of the film is a script that has twists but isn’t confusing. Even the best crime dramas can be difficult to follow if one isn’t paying absolute attention because of a heavy reliance on dialogue and mafia-speak, a use of euphemisms and soliloquy that has developed into a speaking style of its own and can be difficult to understand if one isn’t familiar.

As such, crime dramas must be so overwhelmingly captivating that the audience can’t look away (Drive), dumbed down or, in Contraband’s case, full of criminals who aren’t paranoid about wires and say what they actually mean.

Contraband’s faults are numerous in contrast, but they don’t really stick out if one isn’t looking for them. The film tries way too hard to make Wahlberg’s character sympathetic, and in one scene, he’s sprayed with the kind of bullet repellent reserved for main characters. The ending is bad.

Contraband is a valiant effort, but it doesn’t break through the January mire of movies that weren’t valuable enough to come out during the summer and weren’t good enough to come out at the end of the year.

Contraband fails to separate itself from any other crime movie, and a viewer looking for a thriller would do better to rent or rewatch a classic.

 

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