Review of Contraband

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Mark Wahlberg leads the cast of a white-knuckle action thriller about a man trying to stay out of a world he worked hard to leave behind and the family he'll do anything to protect. Set in New Orleans, the film explores the cutthroat underground world of international smuggling, which is dominated by desperate criminals, corrupt officials, high-stakes and big payoffs. Chris Farraday (Wahlberg) abandoned his life of crime a long time ago, but after his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), he's forced back into doing what he does best-running contraband-to settle Andy's debt.
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Movie Review: "Contraband" --

Rating: Rated R for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use.
Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: January 13, 2012
Directed By: Baltasar Kormákur
Genre: Action/ Crime/ Drama
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Chris Farraday, played by Mark Wahlberg, leads a seemingly normal, quiet life, devoid of crime. He's an excellent husband and father to two small boys. No one would guess that he had abandoned a life of crime and years of running contraband to live with his family. Chris is an ex-smuggler that now lives in New Orleans installing security alarms. He spends his spare time cutting grass and taking care of his home. That is, until his brother-in-law shows up at his door asking for help due to a botched drug deal. Kate, Chris' wife, is played by Kate Beckinsale. She insists that they find a way to help her brother before his boss kills him.

Andy, played by Caleb Landry Jones, worked for a mobster, Tim Briggs. Briggs is played by Giovanni Ribisi. Andy's job was to smuggle drugs in an out of the United States on a cargo ship. During a surprise inspection by the United States customs department, Andy got nervous and dumped the drugs, worth $700,000, into the Atlantic Ocean. The boss is infuriated with Andy and gives him two weeks to come up with the money to pay him back for the drugs or he will lose his life.
Farraday realizes that the only chance they have to get the money for his brother-in-law is to go back to doing the thing he does best, run contraband. Farraday is a legendary smuggler who knows who to call in order to assemble a crew together quickly. Chris joins a cargo ship where his dad, who is now in Federal prison, used to run contraband. He reenters a life of crime to raise the money to repay Andy's debt.

Once Chris leaves his family, Briggs breaks into Farraday's home and threatens to hurt his family unless Farraday gets the money. Briggs wants to make sure that Farraday keeps his promise and repays Andy's debt. Farraday, fearful for the safety of his wife and children, asks his best friend Sebastian, played by Ben Foster, to take care of his family and keep them safe while he is away. Kate and the two boys move in with Sebastian.

Farraday is now more involved and has more at stake. He is as determined as ever to make this one last smuggling trip, return with the contraband, and make enough money to repay his brother-in-laws boss.

The film has twists and turns that lend to the action. Farraday acquires the counterfeit bills and Andy takes the bills from his brother-in-law to purchase cocaine. One crime incident seems to lead to another in this plot woven with deceit.

Andy is torn between getting caught and recovering the money for his boss. Farraday goes through with the heist and finds a rare piece of art, worth millions, in the armored car.

"Contraband" is full of action scenes that keep the viewer guessing what will happen next. Things seem to fall apart in the end just before getting the cash. Both Andy and Farraday are fearful for their own lives, as well as the lives of Kate and the children.

The storyline is based on the premise that family sticks together and will help one another during times of trouble. This is true even if it means risking your life in order to get help. Kate's family is tight-knit and there is never any question that they will not try to get the money to save her brother.

Wahlberg plays yet another working-class hero type in this film. He seems to fit this role much like he has in the other films that he has been cast for. He grew up on the streets and he himself led a life filled with crime and drugs. He dropped out of school when he was just 14 years old and had a violent side that he typically displayed towards minorities. This could be why he makes the parts he plays so believable.

Contraband is an excellent film for anyone who enjoys action and drama with a fairly decent plot. The movie does seem all too familiar, and one can guess from the beginning that the movie will have a happy ending. Andy and Chris make it through customs, Andy repays his debt and the two sell the stolen painting. Chris and his family are reunited and they are now set for an easy life with a lot of money.