There isn’t much to recommend about Contraband, a heist movie starring Mark Wahlberg. The film is a remake of an Icelandic film called Reykjavík-Rotterdam (2008) starring Baltasar Kormákur. Interestingly, Kormákur directed the U.S. version. Wahlberg stars as Chris Farraday, a reformed smuggler of contraband now living life on the straight and narrow with wife Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and their two sons. Kate’s dumbass brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) – an active smuggler – finds himself in a ton of trouble with organized crime boss Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) after dropping a drug shipment to avoid getting busted.
Chris gets pulled back into the underworld, taking a job to help save his brother-in-law’s life. He puts a crew together, which includes Andy and a couple other partners, to smuggle counterfeit money into the U.S. on a cargo ship. Kate is totally cool with this, of course. After all, why not put your husband’s life at risk in order to pay your brother’s debts, right? Her attitude changes when bad guy Tim starts harassing her and the kids at home. Chris assigns his best bud, Sebastian (Ben Foster), to guard his family. Meanwhile, things get complicated for Chris when he discovers that the gigantic shipment of counterfeit bills was printed on the wrong kind of paper, rendering them completely useless. As Chris and his shipmates find their mission going wrong, Sebastian reveals himself to be less than trustworthy back home.
In other words, there is really no one to root for, or even care about, in the slightest bit. This is the story of a bunch of scumbags who basically get what they ask for. The only innocents here are Chris and Kate’s young children. They’re treated like props, but perhaps the movie would’ve been more thrilling had the story been told from their understandably terrified point of view. Wahlberg, soft-spoken and stoic as usual, sleepwalks through his role. Beckinsale is dressed down to look something like an ordinary soccer mom (okay, a very hot soccer mom), but she’s utterly wasted in a role that gives her almost nothing to do. Only Ribisi seems to be having a little over-the-top fun in his villainous role.
Contraband looks as good as a 2012 movie ought to on Blu-ray. Framed at 2.35:1, the MPEG-4 AVC encode is sharp, with a satisfactory level of fine detail. The rusty, mottled textures of the ships (on which much of the movie takes place) are a good example of the realistic detail on display. The cinematography emphasizes dim lighting, which results in a dark, shadow-dominated look. During the darkest scenes, the details disappears into a wash of black, but this was apparently intentional and therefore an accurate representation of the filmmakers’ vision. Colors are muted, with the overall palette dominated by cool blues and dusky grays. There’s really nothing to take issue with in this presentation, which is rock solid for a modestly-budgeted modern effort.