Blu-Ray Review: CONTRABAND
Contraband arrived on Blu-ray and DVD today from Universal. Mark Wahlberg fans will surely enjoy this heist thriller, but I was not a fan. The cast includes Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones, Diego Luna, and J.K. Simmons. Baltasar Kormákur starred in the original and directed the remake of Reykjavík-Rotterdam (2008).
The film follows Chris Farraday (Wahlberg), a super smuggler who is now an upstanding citizen (and security system specialist). He has a wife Kate (Beckinsale) and sons, but his wife's brother Andy (Landry Jones) is trying to carry on the Farraday name as an active smuggler. After a botched smuggling run, Andy finds himself owing money to Tim Briggs (Ribisi). Chris tries to intervene and save his brother-in-law's life. When talking does not work with Briggs, Farraday is left with coming up with the money or Andy get's killed. Chris is forced to reunite his crew, and smuggle some counterfeit money in to save the day.
One of my biggest complaints about Contraband is the script and pacing. I could not find any characters in this movie that I could root for. I felt as though each character continued to make horrible choices and then for some luck was rewarded by someone else's stupidity. The pacing did not help either. I know that heist films are not action-packed, and was not expecting that. There were moments throughout the film that I wondered what the point was, because the film just dragged. The one really solid action sequence could not make up for those parts, unfortunately.
The acting is pretty solid for most of the cast. Wahlberg knows how to play this type of character very well, but he seems to have gotten too comfortable. I like roles that force him to push his comfort zone a bit more. I get that he is a tough guy, but his facial expressions do not vary enough to display emotions properly. Ben Foster and Diego Luna can do a lot better with their role choices, but it was good to see them on screen nonetheless. Ribisi is the only actor out of the bunch that transformed themselves (albeit minor) to become the thug he was in the film. J.K. Simmons has such a wide range of skills as an actor, I love seeing the different characters that he is able to portray. He is good at both humor and being a bastard in this role.
The special features are decent, but not out of the ordinary for a Blu-ray/DVD. I love Universal's on-screen menu system for their discs. The ease of maneuvering on the disc is pretty cool, and I wish more studios would release films in this manner. For the Blu-ray disc you get a standard run-of-the-mill commentary from director Baltasar Kormákur and producer Evan Hayes. I am not a huge fan of these commentary tracks, unless it is for a director that I am a huge fan of.
Deleted scenes seem to be a constant addition to every DVD. I would much rather see more behind-the-scenes videos or roundtable discussions with the actors and directors. This disc has only two videos that give us a look behind the scenes, “Under the Radar” is 17-minutes long and is pretty basic. The 8-minute “Reality Factor” is pretty cool because you get to see what goes into the stunts in the film.
When watching this movie I could not help but wonder why a remake was even given the green light. If you are wanting to watch a good heist movie then I recommend The Italian Job (original or remake). There are also far better Wahlberg movies out there.