Friday, February 17, 2012

Review: Contraband (2012)

“I lost my stripes now, I gotta start from scratch?”

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster and Kate Beckinsale
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski

I’m not the biggest Mark Wahlberg fan in the world, but there are a few of his movies that I enjoy. The Other Guys, Three Kings, The Corrupter, the remake of The Italian Job, to name a few. But as an actor I’ve never really gotten his appeal, he just doesn’t seem to be able to emote, and is often most effective when he’s got other more interesting character to bounce off. So it’s with that kind of mind set that I dive into his new movie.

Acting wise Mark Wahlberg plays Marky Mark (Actually Chris Farraday), and your enjoyment is going to differ depending on how much mileage you get from the persona of Mr Wahlberg. Kate Beckinsale (Kate Farraday) is one of the better actors in this movie, but honestly I was amazed more at how they made her look like the girl next door. Props to the make up department. Ben Foster (Sebastian Abney) is the real winner in this movie, and yet again plays a layered flawed character, and make me wish he was put in more movies as the main lead as he can bring so much to a character even if the script doesn’t deserve it. I pray one day that a Heat like movie will be made, and Ryan Gosling and Ben Foster can play opposite each other, because that would just be perfect. All the other actors are a miss, either not given enough time, or just played horribly. In particular Giovanni Ribisi as the main villain Tim Briggs. I’m not sure what happened to this guy, but he’s playing the same redneck character he always seems to play these days, and what’s worse he plays it absolutely laughable. It’s a shame because the man does have talent.

For an action thriller there are some interesting shots, but it is all very generic. Occasional there are some techniques that stick out like a sore thumb, I can see the director going for something looking cool, but there is no unity of vision. Random cool shots are just that, random, and they make the movie sloppier than they should be. Also in the grand scheme of things there is only one real action piece, with everything else just moving the plot along. It was actually interesting as I left the cinema as I tried to really think of meaningful action set pieces and could only come up with one, and well that one leads me to the worst thing about this movie.

The plot. I could go on about the plot holes, how the big action scene is actually just chucked into the movie with the flimsiest of writing, or how characters are just written so stupid it hurts. But let me sum everything up with one key factor. Everything about the movie, the event that starts everything, the one motivation behind the things that happen is all made moot when you realise that it was needless. Instead of all these complicated actions, instead of the bloodshed and the smuggling, the threats and the betrayal, all one person had to do was ask a friend for money. That’s it. There is no need for the actions of characters, for the introduction of villains, for the pointless twists, everything the movie is, is a complete waste of time. This is one of the biggest sins a movie can make, if everything could so easily be avoided then why are we watching this damn movie.

So do I recommend this movie? Hell no. Avoid this like the plague. This is the type of crap that gets dumped into cinemas this time of year, and you’ll save your money, time and sanity just skipping it. Visually the movie is competent, acting wise there are some good performances, especially considering with what the actors are given. But when the movie shouldn’t even exist, especially when the characters would do something different, you’ve got a heavily flawed movie. Come on Ben Foster start picking better movies.

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