There’s not a whole lot in Contraband, the new heist thriller starring Mark Wahlberg, you haven’t seen done better elsewhere. This is another one of those B-movie plots about a former criminal being forced, through unpleasant circumstances, to abandon peaceful retirement and take on One. Last. Job. You know the type of job I’m talking about: a final convoluted journey into the seedy underworld where everything that can go wrong does so spectacularly, every pre-established rule is broken and yet, somehow, the hero manages to emerge triumphant and mislead the sinister antagonist, as well as the audience.
It’s a fun, seemingly inexhaustible, formula, and one that can very easily become repetitive and tediously predictable. However, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur has managed to imbue his Americanized remake of 2008’s little-seen Reykjavik-Rotterdam – which was helmed by Óskar Jónasson and featured Kormákur in the lead role — with just enough grungy off-beat charm to warrant its own rather slight existence. Contraband is the kind of movie you unintentionally come across on TV one night and, after a reasonably engaging two hours, find yourself reflecting on why you have no memory of it ever being in theatres.