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“Contraband”—*Legal Entertainment*

“Contraband” is a caper flick, just not so lighthearted as most.

The players: Mark Wahlberg is a reformed smuggler living in New Orleans. Kate Beckinsale is his wife. Ben Foster is Wahlberg’s friend. Giovanni Ribisi is a drug dealer.

When Wahlberg’s brother-in-law dumps a smuggled load of blow into the river—just before the feds board the boat—Ribisi, to whom the cocaine was to be delivered, demands compensation. Wahlberg, now living the straight life, decides to make one last run. He’ll work on a cargo ship and bring a huge amount of funny money back from Panama. When it’s delivered, he’ll get the real money to pay off his relative’s debt.

Well, that was the plan. The caper involves causing the ship to have mechanical problems in Panama. Repairs take time enough for Wahlberg to pick up the counterfeit dollars. The idiot brother-in-law, who comes along for the ride, also picks up a load of blow, much to Wahlberg’s dismay.

Meanwhile, Beckinsale is back in New Orleans with her and Marky Mark’s two sons. Ribisi stops by to intimidate her, so she and the kids crash with Foster.

Bad things happen, as they often do in such movies. Most involve guns and violence. Eventually we get satisfactory resolution.

Good to see character actor J.K. Simmons in the movie as the ship’s captain. He appears WITH his distinctive mustache, which is absent in his Farmer’s Insurance TV spots. He is aware of Wahlberg’s smuggler past and regards him suspiciously throughout the ship’s trip north.

Giovanni Ribisi gets a special nod for being such a slimy bad guy. His strange voice is big part of that portrayal. He may have a big future as a film weasel.

“Contraband” has a decent plot, good characters and a generous helping of violence. It’s not flawless, but it’s a darn good action movie. See it at your local movie house, not on a DVD smuggled in from Taiwan.

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