CONTRABAND “So anytime I want, I can use this to watch videos of that water-skiing squirrel?”

THE FUNDAMENTAL CRUELTY of the universe dictates that if you marry someone who looks like Kate Beckinsale, there's going to be some baggage attached. In the case of Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), said baggage is that his wife Kate (Beckinsale) has a fuckup for a little brother. While Chris gave up his smuggling job a few years ago so he could be a husband and father, Kate's Fuckup Brother (Caleb Landry Jones) decided to start smuggling—which, naturally, means he fucks everything up in Contraband's first five minutes. Somewhere around minute six, Kate begs Chris to rescue her fuckup brother; somewhere around minute seven, Chris reluctantly agrees to pull off one last job.

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What follows is something like Shooter or Max Payne—the sort of big-budget, low-ambition movie Wahlberg does to pay the bills. As the exceedingly rare specimen of Funky Buncher-turned-actor who routinely works with the likes of Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson, it's oddly comforting to see Wahlberg carry one more dumb movie that should've gone straight to DVD. It's not that Contraband is terrible so much as it's aggressively mediocre: As the dreary plot grows increasingly convoluted, the only real enjoyment comes from guessing how director Baltasar Kormákur will squander supporting actors like Beckinsale, Ben Foster, J.K. Simmons, and a preposterous Giovanni Ribisi, who inscrutably insists on speaking every line as if he's just sucked in a balloon's worth of helium.

Contraband isn't all bad: For a couple of scenes, it quickens its pace, lightens its tone, and flirts with becoming a solid, enjoyable heist flick. Probably the nicest thing to say about Contraband is that for a few minutes of its draggy runtime, you can almost forget you're watching the sort of movie where plot points are marked by Beckinsale getting beat up and Wahlberg halfheartedly grumbling things like "I'm comin' for you."

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30