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Review: Contraband

A high-quality composite of knock-offs
By PETER KEOUGH  |  January 17, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

True to its name, this standard heist thriller is a composite of knock-offs, but when Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America is among the sources ripped off, the quality is pretty high. Director Baltasar Kormákur, bright light of Icelandic cinema, remakes Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which he starred in, casting a truculent Mark Wahlberg as Chris, a New Orleans smuggler who's trying to stay legit. But his brother-in-law gets in trouble with a local hard-ass (Giovanni Ribisi), who threatens to rough up Chris's wife (Kate Beckinsale, getting knocked around) and kids if he's not repaid. So Chris agrees to the infamous one last job, bringing counterfeit cash back from Panama. Kormákur has a knack for squalor, and everything from the bowels of a freighter to Chris's home looks like it was shot through a greasy window. He's also adept at simultaneously juggling several cliff-hanging narrative lines; you almost forget you've seen them all before.

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