A compact, tidy little heist thriller, “Contraband” took in a major score at the box office early this year, raking in $66 million on a budget of just $25 million. And it features Mark Wahlberg being so effective in a role tailor-made for him, as the cool confidence man, the underdog who keeps one step ahead of those looking to do him in.
I must confess that early in his career, I was not a fan of Wahlberg’s thespian skills. Truth be told, I mocked him for his wooden line delivery and unyielding sour expression. But he’s grown considerably as an actor over the years, and seems to have gotten smart about what sort of parts work best for him.
Wahlberg plays Chris Faraday, a one-time expert smuggler who’s decided to go straight. But he gets sucked by into that world when his brother-in-law dumps a large shipment of drugs after the authorities raid his boat.
The local crime boss (Giovanni Ribisi) insists Chris cover the loss, and the only way to raise that kind of scratch quickly is to head to Panama on a counterfeiting scheme.
Loosely adapted from an Icelandic film, “Contraband” is tightly-wound and a great star showcase for Wahlberg.