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Contraband

Year: 2012
Studio: Universal
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Writer: Aaron Guzikowski
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas, J K Simmons, Diego Luna

I was only kind of interested in seeing this film at cinemas when it came out, and decided to watch it for want of the company of friends when it was put on DVD at my house recently.

It looked like the kind of bland thriller Mark Wahlberg used to do a lot of even while he was trying to break out of the action hero mould by movies like A Perfect Storm, but while the plot is pretty standard fare it's grittier in style than most in the genre.

Wahlberg plays Chris, a former professional smuggler who's now a tough guy gone straight (the old cliché that makes it seems like a run of the mill actioner), drawn back in to pay off a drug debt for his hot wife's (Beckinsale) kid brother.

Creepy characters surround Chris as he goes to Central America to pull off the job with his buddies, including the fearsome drug kingpin Briggs (Ribisi), who Chris can handle no problem, but you don't want to leave your wife and kids alone in town with him around.

There's also his friend Sebastian (Foster). I won't tell you if I was right or not, but I guessed he was crooked and in on the scam early on, partly because of the plot machinations and partly because I've never seen Foster play anything other than a psychotic villain.

In hindsight it is a by numbers thriller – the setup and the sting, followed by the sting going wrong, leading to a desperate climax to put things right. But it's aimed at adults rather than teenagers and has a good sense of style.

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