Tuesday, July 31, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: Contraband

2012, Baltasar Kormákur -- download

Baltasar Kormákur was the star in the Icelandic movie Reykjavík-Rotterdam.  And now he is the director of American remake.  In the original, we have a small flick about a sailor kicked off his ship after getting caught smuggling.  He lives an unsatisfactory life as a security guard and with the help of a friend, gets back on the boats in order to take one more try at lucrative smuggling.  In the remake, Mark Wahlberg is an ex-smuggler who got out of the business before it ruined his life.  He was a legend in the life and it is his rep that drags him back into it, after his nephew gets in too deep with a nasty thug, played by Giovanni Ribisi.

I am not sure how the star of one movie gets the job to direct a remake of his biggest role and I am even less sure it worked out.  It is a very typical hollywood caper thriller but not as big-style as I think it should have been.  They introduce Wahlberg's Farraday as a legendary retired smuggler.  He was known for creative methods on getting big ticket items past the dock authorities.  But the job we get to see just doesn't seem all that big.  Oh sure, it is big ticket and it has a few twists and turns, but it never really gets to the impress me stage.  I felt let down.

But there was something about the movie, something about the small performances, which may have actually been the charm of the original flick.  I like to think that the original movie was about the small desperate life of a man working on board freighters between Iceland and the Netherlands.  Kormákur gets a great performance out Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster (who I really think is going to be the next Ryan Gosling) and especially Ribisi, who really revels in being the outrageous thug.  There was also the hint of where the movie could have shone more brightly, onboard the ship, captained by the ever wonderful JK Simmons.  It obviously takes an experienced crew to pull off the smuggling jobs that happen on ships that trade through international waters.  This is where the movie should have focused, on the intricacies of small jobs instead of trying for the bigger waters of an american-style caper.  At that, it failed.