CONTRABAND Blu-ray Review

     May 9, 2012


It’s nice to see a down and dirty action movie, and Contraband offers a number of things that are fun. It’s got Mark Wahlberg in the lead, and a supporting cast that includes Kate Beckinsale, J.K. Simmons, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, and Lukas Hass.  It’s got a no-nonsense plot about smuggling, and at least one good shootout. But it’s also imminently forgettable. Our review of the Blu-ray of Contraband follows after the jump.

Mark-Wahlberg-Contraband-imageWahlberg plays Chris Farraday, an ex-smuggler now married with children to Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and is currently installing security systems. Kate’s brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) is trying to live up to his brother-in-law, but when U.S. customs boards his ship, he dumps the drugs he was smuggling. Chris has to make things right, so he goes to Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), who wants money for the drugs. Unfortunately the total is seven hundred grand, and when Chris steps in he also incurs the debt, which leads to death threats to his family.

Chris has to go back to smuggling, and his game plan is to bring in ten million in fake bills from Panama. But once he gets there, everything goes wrong, and he has to count on his old friend Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster) to help protect his family at home. But not everything is as it seems, with some parties working against him.

contraband-blu-ray-coverWhen things go bad, the film comes alive for a while, but there’s no great visual language to director Baltasar Kormákur’s work so it’s all about getting through the set up to the fun stuff. When Chris and some of his friends (which include Lucas Haas) are trying to negotiate out of a situation that goes from bad to worse the stakes get raised enough that the film becomes entertaining, but this is a low budget action film that never gets too ambitious. On that level, it works well enough, but all the stuff that happens at home is a little too routine until the ending, when the threats against Beckinsale’s character get extreme.

This is the sort of film meant to be watched with fathers when there’s nothing good on cable. It’s the sort of film that gets sold in multi-packs in about two years time with either another Wahlberg film or a similarly themed adventure. It’s – and I’m sorry to say this – Contra-bland.

Universal’s Blu-ray comes with a DVD and Digital copy. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio. It sounds and looks great. The film comes with a commentary by the director and producer Evan Hayes. They run out of things to say rather quickly. There’s twelve deleted scenes (6 min.), which are mostly just scraps, a making of (17 min.), and “Reality Factor: The Stunts and Action of Contraband” (8 min.). The film also comes with a U-Control Picture in Picture, which offers more EPK style interviews with the cast and crew.

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