John Bryce (Mark Wahlberg) used to be a very successful smuggler but he’s turned over a new leaf and is now a security consultant and family man. Unfortunately his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) has been carrying on the family business behind John’s back and has crossed, Briggs (Giovanni Ribsi), who is more than a bit of a shit.
Briggs wants his money back and Andy dead and the only way he’ll relent is if John does one last run for him. For reasons unknown, since Andy is complete wank flannel, John agrees. He leaves his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and two young sons in the care of his mate, Sebastian (Ben Foster) and heads off to Panama on a freighter with his former crew.
Of course, nothing goes smoothly and it’s not long before John realises he has no idea who he can trust either at home or abroad.
Contraband is not unwatchable but it doesn’t have much going for it. The story is so unoriginal that I feel like I have seen this film twelve times before. It also fails hopelessly on character development. A clichéd plot can be saved if you really care about the characters but in this case I honestly couldn’t form any connection.
One would assume that John has gone straight out of love for Kate but there is zero chemistry between Wahlberg and Beckinsale. Further to this Andy is just a nothing character. He’s Kate’s brother but there’s no demonstration of why they have a bond so strong that her husband would risk his life for him. I mean mostly he comes across as a bit of a snivelling idiot. Consequently the performances of all these actors are as flat as a witch’s tit (as my A-level history teacher used to say). Giovanni Ribisi can be a scene stealer but he overacts so badly here that he comes across as a bit of a joke. Ben Foster is okay as the conflicted Sebastian but it’s hard to understand what his motivations are, so he is wasted.
A film about a daring smuggling operation should be exciting but I found my attention wondering throughout.
Probably best skipped.