Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Contraband Commentary

So, Air Canada has video screens on a lot of their planes now.  When I saw this available for my trip to Montreal, I immediately decided to watch it.  I had wanted to see it in theatres but the stars never aligned for that to happen.  So I got to sit back on a plane and watch one of my favourite actors (Mark Wahlberg) in a thriller; the genre he's best at.  Sadly, I was a bit disappointed by the whole thing.

Contraband is basically Gone in 60 Seconds from 2000.  Wahlberg (Nicolas Cage) plays a smuggler (car thief) who was the best at his craft but has gone straight and has to do one last big job to save his brother in law (brother) from being severely punished by some very bad men.  Contraband does deviate somewhat from the same premise and has a few differences.  But not enough to really make it a wholly different movie.  And the big twist isn't even that much of a surprise.

Where Contraband differs the most from Gone in 60 Seconds is in its mood.  Contraband is a much darker movie that relies a lot less on cool cars and witty one-liners from people like Nicolas Cage, Chi McBride and Scott Caan.  While both movies had villains that would do very, very bad things to punish people, you tend to feel that Tim Briggs in Contraband is a much more depraved and desperate character than Raymond Callitri.  However, Givanni Ribisi should stick to playing the younger brother victim rather than the villain.  Perhaps it was just the unbelievable New Orleans accent but he was very unconvincing in his role in Contraband.  And the rest of the cast wasn't that much better.  Wahlberg really underperformed in this one.  Rather than making the audience feel that he was really desperate to save his family and reluctant to get pulled back into the smuggling game, he came off as going on just another job with no real consequences, moral or otherwise.

If you like Wahlberg, there's better movies with him.  If you like heists, there's better movies for that.  Don't see it.

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