Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Video review: "Contraband"
A compact, tidy little heist thriller, "Contraband" took in a major score at the box office early this year, raking in $66 million on a budget of just $25 million. And it features Mark Wahlberg being so effective in a role tailor-made for him, as the cool confidence man, the underdog who keeps one step ahead of those looking to do him in.
I must confess that early in his career, I was not a fan of Wahlberg's thespian skills. Truth be told, I mocked him for his wooden line delivery and unyielding sour expression. But he's grown considerably as an actor over the years, and seems to have gotten smart about what sort of parts work best for him.
(As opposed to, say, Nicolas Cage, another talented performer who -- as The Onion recently pointed out -- seems to rely on a 12-year-old to choose his roles for him.)
Wahlberg plays Chris Faraday, a one-time expert smuggler who's decided to go straight. But he gets sucked by into that world when his brother-in-law dumps a large shipment of drugs after the authorities raid his boat.
The local crime boss (Giovanni Ribisi) insists that Chris cover the loss -- with the implicit threat that his wife and kids will pay if he won't -- and the only way to raise that kind of scratch quickly is to head to Panama on a counterfeiting scheme. Soon his neat little plan gets blown up, and Chris finds himself in a crazy web of intrigue, with threats looming on every side.
Loosely adapted from an Icelandic film, "Contraband" is tightly-wound and a great star showcase for Wahlberg.
Video goodies are decent enough without being ostentatious. There's a feature-length commentary track by director/producer Baltasar Kormákur -- who, curiously enough, was the star of the original film -- and producer Evan Hayes.
There are also two featurettes: "Under the Radar: The Making of Contraband" and "Reality Factor: The Stunts and Action of Contraband," plus a handful of deleted scenes.
Extras are the same for DVD and Blu-ray editions, except the latter also includes a digital copy of the film.
Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 3 stars