24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Contraband

'Contraband' deals in illicit fun, not substance, critics say

January 13, 2012 |  2:59 pm

After the end-of-the-year wave of prestige pictures and award-seasons hopefuls, the popcorn-movie machine is ramping back up. Case in point: "Contraband," the new heist flick starring Mark Wahlberg as a reformed smuggler pulled back into the underworld to bail out his hoodlum brother-in-law. The film, a remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller "Reykjavik-Rotterdam," is receiving mixed and mostly moderate reviews.

Times film critic Betsy Sharkey deems "Contraband" a "very gritty bit of greased action [that] does a decent job of shaking the sluggish out of January." Wahlberg succeeds in "making lethal look neighborly and necessary," Sharkey says, and he pulls off the role of both man's man and ladies' man. Director Baltasar Kormakur, composer Clinton Shorter and cinematographer Barry Ackroyd all perform adroitly; only "screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, in his feature debut, piles on a few too many new twists." All told, " 'Contraband' is an action-junkies playground. In January, sometimes that's enough."

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