Mark Wahlberg delivers his proven formula in “Contraband”

0 Submitted by on Fri, 13 January 2012, 15:09
(L to R) Thug Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi) threatens Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) in “Contraband.” Credit: Patti Perret

By Sandra Kraisirideja

Movies have formulas no matter the genre and when an actor figures out one that fits it can work beautifully.

Mark Wahlberg’s latest movie, “Contraband” definitely has a formula and I couldn’t help but compare it to Harrison Ford’s formula. You know the one, where he plays a regular guy who gets caught up in a bad situation with some bad guys who never learn that they can’t mess with Harrison Ford.

Wahlberg’s formula is similar except he’s always a good guy who used to be a bad guy so he knows how to handle himself on the street and isn’t afraid to beat the s$%t out of somebody to get what he wants. He’s the street tough who is actually pretty clever and is usually one step ahead of everybody else.

In “Contraband” Wahlberg plays a former top-notch smuggler who is now making a legitimate life for himself, his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons. Of course his hopes of staying legit don’t last long and soon he has to rescue his brother-in-law from the clutches of a sleazy drug pusher played by Giovanni Ribisi.

“Contraband” has few surprises and while the plot is predictable it all follows the Wahlberg formula and is entertaining to watch. If there are any disappointments it’s the lack of a strong antagonist and the lack of character development given to Beckinsale’s character.

Instead of one central bad guy there’s a motley crew of fellows who present different challenges for Wahlberg’s character. It would have been more interesting if one actor had been chosen to be a really good match for Wahlberg. This would have made the story more evenly balanced.

Beckinsale has played strong female characters who kick ass but in “Contraband” she is reduced to be the “wife” who needs to be rescued. Given her strengths as an actress it would have been more interesting if she was just as much of a badass as Wahlberg.


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