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Contraband (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 104 minutes.

Not for children.

Last year the best film I saw was early in the year, a French film called Point Blank. I thought I might see some better, but the only thing that approached it was Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.

Tonight (January 10) I saw Contraband and I can't anticipate seeing anything much more entertaining. Mark Wahlberg is a former drug smuggler who is cast back into that roll with the help of his best friend (Tim Foster) to save his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones), wife (Kate Beckinsale), and two children, from a ruthless crime boss (Giovanni Ribisi), in what turns into a violent caper film with twists and turns.

Set in New Orleans and on a container ship, whose captain (JK Simmons) is less than friendly towards Mark, and Panama, the cinematography (Barry Ackroyd) and music (Clinton Shorter) are both first rate. Baltasar Kormákur directs Aaron Guzikowski's script taken from the film Reykjavik-Rotterdam with pace and tension that never lets up from the opening scene of Landry Jones dumping some drugs off a ship before the drug authorities catch him with them.

Wahlberg gives a scintillating performance, and it's matched by Foster, Ribisi, and Beckinsale. Thrillers, like comedies, get short shrift from the Academy when it comes to awards, but everyone involved in this film deserves recognition. If films are mainly meant as entertainment, this is first rate.