Movie Review: Contraband

What happens when your dufus brother-in-law gets involved with drug smugglers?  Well, Mark Wahlberg is forced to go mano y mano with Giovanni Ribisi in “Contraband.”

Wahlberg is the ex-smuggler who’s now trying to run his own home security company.  He’s got the life, but secretly misses being a smuggler.  All those ocean voyages on a freighter to Panama.  Finding sneaky places on the ship to hide cool stuff, but not drugs.

So, it’s not a stretch when he decides to bail out his wife’s sibling by becoming a smuggler again.  Just this one time, of course.

His beautiful wife, played by Kate Beckinsale in a what-is-she-even-DOING-in-this movie moment, is the damsel-in-distress.  Beckinsale mainly stands around looking beautiful in a domestic kind of way, while a very greasy looking Ribisi threatens and pushes her around.

Speaking of Ribisi’s character, what is a drug kingpin doing living a rat-hole apartment with his wife and kids?  Can’t he afford better?  If he makes $700,000 a pop selling a batch of smuggled drugs on the street, it seems to me he can find a nicer place to live.

Anyway, the set-up to “Contraband” is actually acceptable for your standard action flick.  The problem is the overwritten second half.  Wahlberg somehow gets involved in an armored car robbery in Panama with an out-of-his-skull counterfeiter/drug dealer played by Diego Luna.

Luna’s out-of-control wolf/snake collector is a true loondog.  He’s perhaps the best bit of casting in the film, although his character really should have been in another movie.

Everything Wahlberg does from the midpoint of the film onwards defies logic and makes his character look almost as dumb as his punk brother-in-law.  You know, the guy who got the plot rolling in the first scene.

“Contraband” has a fair amount of action, but it’s not sustained.  The final 30 minutes are laughingly bad, especially a short cut-in to a prison scene featuring one of the main characters.  How in the heck did he get in prison so fast?  Talk about swift justice!

A convoluted plot and the wasting of some decent actors, including an out-of-place Kate Beckinsale, makes “Contraband” just so much lost cargo. Grade: C-