We're used to Hollywood adapting European films but Contraband puts a spin on that tradition in that Baltasar Kormákur, the guy who played the lead in the original Icelandic version of the story (Reykjavik-Rotterdam), actually gets behind the camera for this starry remake.
Mark Wahlberg takes the lead (and acts as Executive Producer) for a time-honoured story about a retired smuggling ace who has left the madness behind him to settle down with his young wife (Beckinsale) and children in New Orleans. In fact, he has built up a nice little business as an alarm fitter. Happy ever after, right?
Wrong. In true Corleone fashion, just when he thinks he is out, they pull him back in. In this case, his return to his nefarious activities is triggered by the actions of his hapless brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones). Jones' character wants to be a smuggling legend like Wahlberg's, but he botches a drugs heist and incurs the wrath of a lot of nasty people with biceped tattoos and rather large firearms, notably the frankly bonkers Giovanni Ribisi. The only way Wahlberg can save his brother is to use his skills, his contacts and his legendary status to deliver one last huge payday for the bad guys.
Being a man who will do anything to protect his family (even useless in-laws), Wahlberg reassembles his old crew and heads off to Panama to reacquaint himself with some old adversaries. Meanwhile, his erstwhile partner Ben Foster is at home keeping a jaundiced eye on Ms Beckinsale and her clan.
In many ways Contraband is a by-the-numbers thriller that could easily be an episode of any CSI series. What elevates it above the norm is Barry Ackroyd's moody photography and Wahlberg's convincing performance in the lead. Also noteworthy are some excellent high-octane action sequences, notably an armoured car robbery. On the supporting actor front, Ribisi is convincingly nasty, Beckinsale and Foster are both under-utilised and, as ever, scene-stealer du jour, JK Simmons, upstages everybody.