Monday, April 2, 2012

CONTRABAND - Hit and miss generic action flick

Another poor weekend release schedule caused us to see a film released weeks ago. For some reason a CGI fest in Wrath Of The Titans was not appealing to me. I did want to see Contraband a few weeks ago but we ended up stumping for 21 Jump Street, not a bad choice by any means.

Contraband is the latest Mark Wahlberg film. He seems to be constantly popping up in films but his presence in them never guarantees a good picture. A good 50% of his films are poorly acted and a good 30% are ok when he plays the same character, leaving a mere 20% of films he is actually good in. Here we have him performing in the 30% bracket. He's alright but it is very generic for him.

The film isn't too bad though. Lots of the film was edge of your seat action, but at the same time some of it was predictable and highly cliched. It took a good while for me to get into it, and at times I had to ask myself what was going on. Some of the actors seemed very unsuited for their roles and maybe that is why I had trouble believing in their world. However the film suddenly picks up a gear or ten about half way through, and the film rockets up from a mediocre film to one that is first class. The action scene that sets this rolling really had me on the edge of my seat, and it is filmed and acted really well also. Everything seems to go wrong for our lead in the space of about half an hour and it really ramps up the tension. From there on in we see many twists and turns and the pace fails to let up.

The twists and turns are good, unfortunately most of them are predictable. We had guessed who the betrayer was from the start which was a twist that was a let down. However the film shows plenty more twists and we witness several characters fending for themselves in the expense of anyone else. These twists were thrilling and certainly got me hooked again. If the film could have got rid of the typical cliches it would have been much better. The twists that worked were ace but the ones that didn't were a giant let down. It did turn out to be a bit of an Italian Job, which Mark Wahlberg also appeared in, playing the exact same role.

The acting wasn't horrific, but it certainly wasn't great. Giovanni Ribisi was highly disappointing considering I am a big fan of his. From the trailers he seems a scary crime lord, but in the film he is like a child who doesn't really know what he is doing. He had the tendency and look to be a really mean villain but it really didn't pay off. Ben Foster was against type here as he is a little bit of a weakling compared to his usual macho man roles. However it is his character that was the poorest and most unbelievable. The direction of the film isn't too bad, the action scenes are done very well and the look is gritty and realistic which is also a plus. The story does work, albeit does rely on everything happening at the right time in order for the plans to work. A little typical of this kind of movie but I'm willing to let it go by. All in all it is an average movie. One that I'm sure I'll watch again and enjoy but not one I would class as a classic.

Pros: Action scenes done well, and many twists and turns.

Cons: A little too generic at times, and very stereotypical.

6 / 10

Top 10 of 2012 so far:

1. The Hunger Games     8 / 10
2. 21 Jump Street     7.5 / 10
3. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol     7 / 10
4. The Grey     7 / 10
5. Safe House     6 / 10
6. The Raven     6 / 10
7. Contraband     6 / 10
8. This Means War     5 / 10
9. Man On A Ledge     5 / 10
10.  J. Edgar     4.5 / 10

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