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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: May 8: Contraband


May 8: Contraband

"To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills."

Contraband is every heist movie you have ever seen. It follows many cliches of the genre (one last job, betrayal, unbelievable plot holes, Mark Wahlberg) but still proves somewhat entertaining. It's a fun ride that manages to hold enough interest to keep watching, even if you know exactly where it's going (and you know it very quickly). The film does try to keep you guessing by throwing in a twist or a plot point here and there. However, the entire thing is very messy and convoluted and tries to be a much more intelligent film than it really is. Contraband is purely meant to be enjoyed, not pondered over or scrutinized. It's simply a heist film where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong, and Wahlberg struggles to stay one step ahead of his pursuers and the law. 

Yo, Marky Mark , why you smugglin' all that shit with your Funky Bunch?

The plot follows Wahlberg's character, Chris, an ex-smuggler who's dragged back into the game when his brother-in-law, Andy, makes a boo-boo with a drug trafficker named Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi). To clean Andy's slate, Chris agrees to smuggle a bunch of counterfeit money out of Panama and protect his family from the harassment and threat of Briggs. Back in the states, Chris trusts that Sebastian (Ben Foster) watch over his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two kids as he knows they are in danger. Briggs is a violent criminal and will do whatever it takes to get his money. Throw in a few twists, a Cajun J.K Simmons (who's awesome), and bullshit "tricks" employed to evade Customs, and you get Contraband

Everyday I'm Smug-a-ling. 

The best part of Contraband is Ribisi and Foster who continue to prove how insanely underrated and underused they are as actors. The two seem to continue playing very similar roles and it frustrates me that they won't go for something bigger. They heighten the film to their own little level, but it doesn't quite save it as a whole. Contraband is enjoyable if you just don't think about it. It's great to have on in the background and it's even okay if you leave the room to go do something else for a couple minutes, as you really won't miss much. I would recommend Contraband for a decent rental, but don't go in expecting it is going to be a game changer. 

The Good:
Ribisi and Foster, even though you know they could be in much better movies
The Bad:
a messy script that tries extremely hard to be a smart thriller/caper when it clearly is not
The Ugly:
Mark Wahlberg finely tip-toeing the line of true action star and "Questionable Career Decision Man"

Overall: 5.8/10


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