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Contraband

There once was a man. He was very good at robbing banks/stealing cars/counterfeiting currency/negotiating for hostages/killing. He was the best in the business but it got to be too much for him and he had to retire. Now, because of some circumstance, he is forced back to do one last job before retiring for good.

This pretty much sums up the plot of a hundred movies from Rambo: First Blood Part 2 to Gone in 60 Seconds. We’re not pointing this out as a criticism: some of the movies that follow this format are absolute stonkin’ classics. It’s always about the execution.

Contraband is one such movie.

Mark Wahlberg is a man. He was very good at smuggling. He was the best in the business but it got to be too much for him and he had to retire. Now, because of a mistake made by his wife’s idiot brother, he is forced back to do one last job before retiring for good. There are, of course, more details. Thrown into the mix is Giovanni Ribisi as the small-time gangster who has Wahlberg’s brother in-law by the short and curlies while Ben Foster and Kate Beckinsale fill out the cast as his best friend and wife, respectively.

As mentioned before, it’s all about the execution, and Contraband is a tightly run ship that wastes little time elevating the stakes as Wahlberg travels to Panama to pull off a big job. Efficiently directed by Baltasar Kormákur (who starred in the Icelandic original on which this was based), the film delivers on its premise: there are car chases, daring heists and gun fights galore. Mark Wahlberg, an actor who has never claimed to possess a wide range, shows that he still has what it takes to be a very effective leading man.

Contraband works like gangbusters precisely because it has no aspirations to be anything more than what it is:  the story of a man. A man who was very good at smuggling and the best in the business, etc…

Contraband is in cinemas now.

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