Contraband, which provided a welcome respite from the January movie doldrums, hits DVD shelves this week. Mark Wahlberg plays Chris, a man dragged back into the high-stakes crime world of container smuggling after his young brother-in-law gets in over his head. Chris is left holding the debt while his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and kids are under threat back home in New Orleans.
The action then ping-pongs from a crazy race through the slums of Panama, back to the states, complete with a humourous side plot about a Jackson Pollock painting. Sure, it’s a tad far-fetched and we’ve seen the whole one-last-job done a thousand times before, but the action in and around the ship and container ports make things feel fresh enough. Giovanni Ribisi plays a menacing drug dealer, Ben Foster may or may not be Chris’ best friend, and Caleb Landry Jones is Andy, the thug wannabe who puts his extended family in jeopardy.
Based on a 2008 Icelandic film called Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which starred Baltasar Kormakur in the Wahlberg role. Kormakur just happens to be sitting in the director’s chair for the English-language remake, and Wahlberg was his first choice. The film’s frenetic action is complemented by a nimble score from the North Shore’s Clinton Shorter (District 9).
Special features on the Blu-ray combo pack include a making-of extra, featuring chats with actors J.K. Simmons, Wahlberg, Ribisi and Beckinsale, and Wahlberg’s revelation: "I like beating people up, and I got to beat up most of the characters in the movie." There’s an extra devoted to the stunts and action of the film, a picture-in-picture gadget, deleted scenes, and more.