Looking at Mark Wahlberg glowering from the poster, Kate Beckinsale looking harassed and the metallic tones of the artwork gave a fair idea of what the movie was all about. While it didn't disappoint, the film did not surprise either.

Contraband is a by-the-numbers thriller which moves briskly with predictable twists and turns in the plot. A remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam, Contraband tells the story of Chris Farraday, the greatest smuggler of them all who has since gone straight and is living a quiet life with his wife, Kate, and two sons installing security systems in New Orleans.

When Kate's brother, Andy, falls foul of evil gangster Briggs, Chris steps in for one last run smuggling counterfeit money from Panama to the United States.

After several shootouts, double and triple crosses and races against time, it all comes out right in the end.

The fun part of Contraband is the technological leaps and bounds made in smuggling. I remember Badman Gulshan Grover saying that a smuggler today would be described as an importer.

Having grown up on the Hindi movies of the Seventies complete with Ajit, the loin king, biting the smuggled gold biscuit to see if it is authentic before repairing to his lovely lair and submitting to the ministrations of Mona Darling, it was a different thrill to watch smuggling in the movies as a high precision art form. The flashing torchlight and the torn note have been replaced by computers, GPS and sundry cold-hearted devices.

Mark Wahlberg does not change his mask-like countenance to add anything to his role as Chris, while Kate Beckinsale looks suitably stricken as wife and mum. The others display varying degrees of teeth-gnashing villainy. Contraband is not as sleek as it could've been, but is all right for general time pass.

Contraband

Genre: Action

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale

Storyline: An ex-smuggler has to do one last job.

Bottomline: Serviceable thriller with a new take on smuggling.

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English Cinema ReviewsOctober 17, 2011