Contraband | Film review
Mark Wahlberg sails to Panama without breaking a sweat.
The most engrossing part of the flavorless Contraband is an inspection by Customs and Border Protection. This late-breaking development adds a welcome dose of procedural interest to a story whose insane convolutions somehow run in inverse proportion to its excitement. After his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a drug run, an ex-smuggler (a bland Mark Wahlberg) has to pay off the debt to a NOLA dealer (Giovanni Ribisi). With planning skills that stop short only of telepathy, Wahlberg’s mastermind hatches a scheme that involves boarding a freighter to Panama to steal counterfeit money. Meanwhile, his wife (Kate Beckinsale) faces threats back home. By the time Idiot Brother-in-Law has run off again against Wahlberg’s instructions, the screenplay has become as much of a pileup as the heist. Savoring every syllable as a suspicious ship captain, J.K. Simmons briefly boosts the energy level, but Ribisi is so outrageously over-the-top you have to wonder if his performance is a deliberate act of sabotage.