Mark Wahlberg returns to the big screen in “Contraband,” his first role since “The Fighter” in 2010.
Wahlberg stars as Chris Farraday, a formerly notorious smuggler who straightened his life out for his wife and children, only to get sucked back into the game.
Farraday’s brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), nearly gets busted during a smuggling run, and has no choice but to dump a large load of cocaine into the ocean.
When Andy shows up to deliver the bad news, the drug dealers are much less understanding than he assumed they would be, and he ends up in the hospital.
This is where “Contraband” begins to pick up momentum.
When Andy comes clean to Farraday and his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale), Farraday decides to try and discuss things with Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), the dealer whom Andy now owes nearly $700,000.
Almost immediately, Briggs begins to get under Farraday’s skin, as well as the audience’s.
That is obviously the desired effect by the director, but Ribisi achieves the role of the annoying bad guy quite well.
When Farraday realizes that Briggs isn’t going to go away without his money, he finds himself stuck in a tough position.
He clearly prefers living a legitimate and completely legal life with his wife and kids, but if he doesn’t find a way to make quick money, there’s no telling what Briggs will do to recover what is owed to him.
After he decides to do one final run, he has an old friend, Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster), help him set the whole thing up.
However, Abney almost immediately appears to be hiding something from Farraday, and becomes more of an obstacle than a helping hand.
Farraday and his crew make their way to Panama and to the climax of this film.
The most effective element of this movie is the suspense factor, which becomes compounded as the smugglers encounter more and more complications along the way.
Just when the viewer thinks they are definitely going to get busted, they somehow find a way around it, only to find more problems looming around the corner.
“Contraband” was not without a few plot holes along the way, but the story is delivered in such a fun and free-flowing way that I wasn’t nearly as bothered by them as I may have been if it was a different movie.
Wahlberg’s character is very likeable, largely because he is a criminal that decided to do the right thing, which isn’t seen often enough in films.
I think his role in this movie will remind a lot of viewers of his role in “The Italian Job,” given their somewhat similar plots.
By the time Farraday returns home from Panama, the tension is at its peak.
The plot contains a twist near the end of the movie that almost borders on the feel of a horror movie. While it adds even more suspense to an already nail-biting plot, I think the film would have definitely ended on a stronger note without it.
The twist is somewhat irrelevant to the overall result of the story and, to be quite honest, I think it turned an above average movie into an average movie.
As a whole, “Contraband” delivers an entertaining and slightly unique look at a high tension smuggling thriller during an otherwise weak season for Hollywood. That is until its weak and cliché ending drags it down.