‘Contraband’ provides more confusion than entertainment

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With far too little character development and far too many plot points, the newly-released “Contraband” leaves much to be desired.

It tells the story of Chris Farraday, a family man who lives a peaceful life in New Orleans with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he enjoys drinking, swearing profusely, and engaging in illegal trafficking of various not-so-nice goods into American borders. In other words, he’s just the kind of person you would want to have over for dinner. Though attempting to “go straight” and give up smuggling once and for all, he soon finds himself roped back into the game when his brother-in-law Andy runs into trouble during a smugling job and loses a whole bunch of money for a mobster.

Chris is forced to call together a crack-squad of professional theives in order to pull off one last heist and steal back enough money to save Andy from imminent death-by-hitmen. Chris galavants over to Columbia, while his wife and kids are brutally threatened and injured by various mobsters who have varying degrees of intrest in whether Chris comes back with the dough.

Unfortunately, this movie is doomed from the start. Little to no character development is given, and I still don’t know the names of Chris’ A-Team. One of them was named Olaf, but I had to resort to calling the other three “Cheeky Black Man”, “Squirelly Whiny Teenager”, and “Skinny Paranoid White Guy”.

Chris’ wife is given literally no backstory, and even Chris is granted with the bare bones of a ruined childhood and a profuse amount of witty comments. He’s more like the crude outline of a character than a real person, and due to this it’s hard to care about his plight at all.

Furthermore, the plot of the move is so convoluted that merely saying it’s a “heist movie” doesn’t even scratch the surface. “Mission Impossible” is a heist movie; “Ocean’s Eleven” is a heist movie. “Contraband” is a “heist-spy-romance-action-thriller-plot-twisty-scary movie.”

There are probably a few more genres in there as well. Overall, “Contraband” isn’t sure WHAT it wants to be, and thus ruins any chance we have of commiting to a storyline. As soon as you have the plot figured out, a new character is introduced, or so-and-so turns out to be evil, or Chris brings up a random friend/aquaintance/enemy/hairdresser of his that we are expected to remember and care about.

All of these reasons, along with far too many obvious plot gimicks and cheesy dialogue that is peppered with too many “f-bombs” to even be legal, make “Contraband” both confusing and unamusing.

1.5 out of 5 stars.

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