Previously Published on Yell!
More in 'Reviews'
The year is 2012. Theatergoers have been bombarded with a slew of uninspired, assembly-line action pieces for the last 20 years. Explosions, gun fights, and car chases have become the conventional way of maintaining our attention because, for some reason, we like seeing the same thing, ad infinitum.
But wait – a new film rises to the occasion; It’s a film named Contraband. Perhaps this could shatter the status quo, as stated in The Prophecy. Perhaps maybe, just maybe, we’ll be treated to something we’ve been deprived of for much too long – the magical quality that is effort.
Yeah, guess again, loser. You wanted action and demanded nothing else, you got action, supplemented by nothing else. You got Contraband, thethat you’ve seen 10 times before, except with a much more complicated plot.
Chris Farraday (Mark Walhberg) is trying to live a simple life, with his simple wife (Kate Beckinsale), and to forget his violent and thrilling past. Unfortunately, circumstances brought about by his brother-in-law, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) have caused his quiet world to go topsy-turvy. Now he’s gotta round up a motley crew of mercs and dive back in for one last job. Will he manage to survive and make it out in the end?
OK, so there must be something that Contraband has going for it, right? Firstly, in a manner of speaking, you could say that it looks good, but it doesn’t really get much better than that. We’re treated to some shaky-cam, random-zoom, “realist”-style directing here, and for the tone of the film, it gets the job done.
Secondly, it’s got Caleb Landry Jones, and he’s kind of likeable, because he reminds you of that one red-haired lanky neighborhood pal you had growing up. That’s nice.
But really, aside from that there’s not much else to say. Contraband alienates what could be its target demographic with a complex, interwoven narrative, which has a couple of neat plot points, but they’re resolved in the laziest way possible. Following that trend, we’re presented with a potentially intriguing handful of hard-nosed, dirty-handed criminals that help move the heist along, but they’re only interesting insofar as their clothes are interesting. In other words, they only really have character on the surface. Hell, they’re pretty much defined by the five-word sentences uttered about them when they’re introduced, and even that gives a better description than what we can glean from their actions.
Don’t get me wrong though, Contraband is well-paced and the action is directed very well. The thing is, it’s ultimately forgettable and you’ll wake up the morning after wondering whether there’s really a movie called Contraband or if it was just one of those wacky, hackneyed dreams of yours.
Here, we see not Chris Farraway, but Mark Walhberg, anticipating the moment when he can get his paycheck so that he can go home.
In a multimedia-based culture that’s been raised on shooting virtual people in the face, the best thing one can say about Contraband is that it represents just how boring the genre has become. Action for action’s sake may have played itself out, unless it’s done in a self-satirizing style, like Crank.
If you’re the type who likes action because you just really like action, then Contraband honestly couldn’t hurt. If you’re the type who likes falling asleep while watching something that you paid for, then whatever floats your boat, bro – be my guest. If, however, you’re the type who likes his ‘splosions with a little originality on the side, well I’m sorry, man. Can’t help you here.
Contraband is the most metaphysically neutral movie on DVD that you can find right now. It’s not great, but it’s not bad. It merely is. Make what you will of that, but just don’t take away my lemons.
Heh. They should have gone and called it “Contrabland,” knowhatImean? I mean, am I right?