Sleazy violent escapist action

Contraband Universal Rating: 14A 110 minutes

Contraband is a remake of a better 2008 Icelandic film. It stars Mark Wahlberg as a former smuggler who’s now an honest working man. But then his brother-in-law fumbles a drug shipment and a nasty mobster (Giovanni Ribisi) says he’ll kill him, Wahlberg’s wife (Kate Beckinsale) and their kids too if he doesn’t get his money.

So Wahlberg has to come up with a preposterous plan to smuggle millions in counterfeit money from Panama into the States thru New Orleans in a few days to save everyone.

While there are some nice plot twists in this sleazy, action-packed film the story gets a little more ridiculous all the time. In Panama, while picking up the fake cash, Wahlberg, in just a few minutes before the ship he’s working on sails on without him, is forced to take part in the robbery of a priceless artwork from an armoured car. But, unbelievably, he still makes the ship in time, complete with a pile of counterfeit money the size of a smart car.

None of the characters are very likeable, except maybe our hero. The film is also shot in a dark grainy style with irritating camera movements and endless closeups, so the feel good ending can’t come too soon for this reviewer.

Red Deer gets this second-rate stuff as one of our first films of 2012 while we’re still waiting for much better films like The Iron Lady, The Artist and The Descendants from 2011 to arrive.

Rating: two deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.