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ContrabandContraband is an American action thriller film directed by Baltasar Kormákur, starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale.


The film is a remake of the 2008 Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam which Baltasar Kormákur starred in. It was released on January 13, 2012 in the United States by Universal Pictures.

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is an ex-smuggler who works installing security alarms and lives a peaceful life with his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and their two little sons in New Orleans. One day, Chris and Kate learn that her brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) was smuggling drugs in a cargo ship, but was forced to drop them into the ocean in order to avoid arrest during a surprise inspection by the U.S. Customs. Andy's boss, ruthless mobster Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), is infuriated and wants Andy to repay him the drug's worth in money.

Chris meets with Briggs, who threatens to kill Chris' family if Andy doesn't pay $700,000 in two weeks. Chris realizes that the only way to raise the money is to run contraband and joins the crew of a cargo ship where his father Bud (William Lucking), currently in prison, used to run contraband, in order to buy $10,000,000 in fake bills in Panama and smuggle them into the U.S. with the help of Andy and Chris' old friend Danny Raymer (Lukas Haas). While Chris is gone, Briggs and a couple of his thugs break into Chris's house and scare his wife and kids. When one of the kids pushes the thugs, a thug accidentally fires off his pistol to the wall. Briggs and his thugs then leave, causing Chris to ask his best friend, Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster), to take care of his family.

In Panama, the Chief Engineer gives Chris extra time by sabotaging the ship's pitch propeller, drawing suspicion from Captain Camp (J. K. Simmons). However, Chris discovers that the bills are useless, not starch-free paper, and refuses to accept them. The only one who can provide them good ones is crime lord Gonzalo (Diego Luna). Meanwhile, Briggs attacks Kate in her house, after which she accepts Sebastian's offer that she and the children move to his apartment. He then calls Andy and threatens to kill one of his nephews if Andy doesn't use the buy money intended for the fake bills to acquire a stash of cocaine. Andy runs off with the buy-money, leading an infuriated Gonzalo to force Chris and Danny to participate in an armored car heist. Chris and Danny are assigned with the job of driving in front of the armored car, forcing it to stop and becoming vulnerable to the robbers. However, Gonzalo and his men are killed in a firefight with the police.

Chris and Danny make it back to Gonzalo's warehouse, where they then escape in a van loaded with the fake money, and also a Jackson Pollock painting which was stolen in the armored car heist. Meanwhile, Sebastian begins working with Briggs against Chris, after a Scottish gangster Jim Church (David O'Hara) threatens to kill Sebastian if Sebastian doesn't repay the money Sebastian borrowed to save his fledgling construction business. When Sebastian calls Chris, Chris tells Sebastian he might drop the drugs bought by Andy in the ocean. Sebastian tells Briggs to scare Kate, in order to make sure that Chris doesn't dump the drugs into the ocean. That same night, Briggs rams Chris's house with his truck and assaults Kate, warning her to tell Chris to complete the mission and to not throw the drugs into the ocean. Sebastian comes in and pretends to rescue Kate, scaring off Briggs. Sebastian tells Kate to get in his truck, but Kate knows he's been drinking and she doesn't want her kids in the car with him. So she grabs the kids and drives off.

Contraband opened from mixed reviews. Based on 110 reviews, the film currently holds a 48% "rotten" score from Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus saying, "It's more entertaining than your average January action thriller, but that isn't enough to excuse Contraband's lack of originality and unnecessarily convoluted plot."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that "Contraband involves a lot of energy," but he was growing "tired of violent retreads of these heist elements." Tom Long of The Detroit News criticized the film for having "too much plot and too little character" and concluded that it "comes off the factory floor with its engine running and ready to drive. But the ride feels overly familiar." Claudia Puig of USA Today called "the 'one last job' trope a particularly tired one" and remarked that while it "has a few moments of tension," the film "adheres to a predictable heist formula hardly worth trafficking in." Andrew O'Hehir of Salon characterized the film as "exactly the sort of movie that Hollywood specializes in, the kind which seems on paper as if it ought to be entertaining, but winds up a massive and chaotic drag" and observed that "it's much more like a cynical hash job, whose faux-realistic manner can't hide all the hackneyed crime-movie situations."

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone thought the film "goes down in a sea of Hollywood clichés" and that Mark "Wahlberg could sleepwalk through this role, and does. See this movie and you'll surely follow his lead." Kyle Smith of the New York Post derided the film, noting that "watching a hero progress due in large part to lucky breaks and idiot moves by others does not make a movie" and that "it's puzzling why anyone considered this script worth shooting." Scott Tobias of NPR dismissed the film as a "mediocre thriller," something "to be remembered, vaguely." Rafer Guzman of Newsday expressed disappointment that "a little action is all you'll get" and opined that the film "fails by overreaching: It aspires to the heightened drama of The Departed but lands instead in the bargain bin of forgettable action product."

Justin Chang of Variety praised the film as "reasonably swift and effective" and for taking "a hard-driving line of action and a commitment to one-damned-thing-after-another storytelling that carries it past any number of narrative speed bumps and preposterous detours." Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post compared the film to "an Ocean's Eleven movie, minus the glamour," saying that it was "taut and suspenseful for the most part." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly stated that the film, "while often grungy and far-fetched, does keep you watching. And in January, that's recommendation enough."

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