Contraband, while often grungy and far-fetched, does keep you watching. And in January, that's recommendation enough.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Whether he's slowing down time or ignoring its rules altogether, Mr. Kormakur's eccentric pacing brings its own dividends, as does what really gets him going in the film.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
Contraband has a few moments of tension, but it adheres to a predictable heist formula hardly worth trafficking in.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
"Contraband" is like an "Ocean's Eleven" movie, minus the glamour.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
I don't know that a lot of "Contraband'' makes sense. But I'm not sure that it has to.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
Will there someday be a movie where the "one last job" goes off without a hitch?
Nick Pinkerton - Village Voice
This is an uncommonly well-crafted action adventure, or an action misadventure, given how much goes wrong for the resourceful hero.
Joe Morgenstern - Wall Street Journal
It's a good, chugging caper movie for the most part.
Glenn Kenny - MSN Movies
A winter-season product, but perfectly absorbing once it gets going.
David Denby - New Yorker
"Contraband" involves a lot of energy, but I'm getting tired of violent retreads of these heist elements.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Wahlberg has the presence, the glower and the laconic line readings to guide us through a mess of pain, painlessly.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Several graphically violent scenes of women and children in jeopardy make this, ultimately, beneath contempt.
Ben Sachs - Chicago Reader
With his Popeye biceps and broody stares, [Wahlberg] can do a character like Chris without even thinking about it - and that's what he does here.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
It's like an exciting police procedural turned on its head.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Contraband" comes off the factory floor with its engine running and ready to drive. But the ride feels overly familiar.
Tom Long - Detroit News
As mindless action capers go, "Contraband" is a little less mindless than some.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Reasonably swift and effective.
Justin Chang - Variety
"Contraband" aims to be dumb fun but gets only the first half right.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
It's a so-so heist actioner with some serviceable thrills and better-than-average stunt work that hangs on a formula plot punctuated with fits of disturbing violence aimed at women.
Linda Barnard - Toronto Star
Though it never quite has us by the lapels, the film is a solid, workmanlike action flick.
Stephen Cole - Globe and Mail
It's exactly the sort of movie that Hollywood specializes in, the kind which seems on paper as if it ought to be entertaining, but winds up a massive and chaotic drag.
Andrew O'Hehir - Salon.com
If you enjoy watching Mark Wahlberg do that action-movie thing he does, you could do worse than to spend your next plane ride watching Contraband.
Dana Stevens - Slate
Contraband is the kind of thriller that offers just enough in the way of effective elements to assemble a two-minute trailer.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
The gritty style only accentuates the increasingly far-fetched dramatics in Contraband, an involving, atmospherically grungy mid-register thriller.
Todd McCarthy - Hollywood Reporter
A solid genre picture that knows exactly what it is, has no delusions of grandeur and carries out its task in entertaining and occasionally even suspenseful fashion.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
Contraband's sense of humor is charmingly macho, real meat and potatoes stuff. Literally.
Mary F. Pols - TIME Magazine
Wahlberg could sleepwalk through this role, and does. See this movie and you'll surely follow his lead.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
This is a first-rate action film with a great cast, a talented director and a strong script.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
This very gritty bit of greased action does a decent job of shaking the sluggish out of January.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
We are left to ponder why Andy is any less culpable or any more worth saving than anyone else.
Kenneth R. Morefield - Christianity Today
It may not exactly be an original story, but when a little effort is put into a film like this, it can be done pretty well.
Jeff Beck - Examiner.com
Contraband is a decent action film but none of the cast can do anything to elevate the material beyond what it is: a January movie from top to bottom.
Benjo Colautti - We Got This Covered
Plays like conventional Hollywood genre entertainment even though all the actual events in movie feel like they belong in a Michael Mann joint.
William Bibbiani - CraveOnline
With its dim lighting and handheld camerawork, the director's 'realistic' visual approach is arguably bogus, but it pays dividends as the narrative becomes increasingly grim.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Wahlberg delivers in this sometimes tense, enjoyable, but morally muddy heist thriller.
R. L. Shaffer - IGN DVD
Mark Wahlberg plays another working class action hero in this gritty but convoluted story about double-dealing smugglers, wharfside corruption and family revenge.
Simon Weaving - Screenwize
Mark Wahlberg delivers the goods in Contraband, a B-movie about smuggling in boozy, corrupt New Orleans.
A-Team rules apply: this is a gore-free zone that, in common with ye Lethal Weapon movies of yore, yokes family values to gunplay.
Tara Brady - Irish Times
Ends up just another dumber than average caper.
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
Sound familiar? Of course it does, and not just because it's a remake of the 2008 film Reykjavik-Rotterdam.
Siobhan Synnot - Scotsman
Conventional, fairly exciting stuff, its most distinctive feature perhaps is the realistic, atmospheric photography by Ken Loach's regular collaborator, Barry Ackroyd.
Philip French - Observer [UK]
How this confused and mediocre heist-cum-action movie reached - albeit briefly - the top spot in the US box-office ratings passes all understanding.
- This is London
Ultimately, it's not going to win any awards for originality but this is an entertaining crime thriller nonetheless.
Alex Zane - Sun Online
A typical Hollywood excuse for stringing together violent action sequences which are individually exciting enough but collectively unable to sustain any palpable tension.
Graham Young - Birmingham Mail
Gritty, slick and maybe a bit too serious, Contraband may be predictable, but it is solid action entertainment.
Mark Adams - Daily Mirror [UK]
It's a thriller in which the twists become so absurd that it becomes a kind of caper, but without the humour.
It is criminal that a director of Kormakur's talent should make the run from the gloomy authenticity of Jar City to this bland Hollywood fare.
Anton Bitel - Film4
Mark Wahlberg is back in action-man mode in this skilfully shot if slightly uneven thriller.
Adam Smith - Radio Times
[A] thick-cut, crusts-left-on smuggling thriller directed by the Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormakur.
Robbie Collin - Daily Telegraph
A cockamamie smuggling thriller remade from an Icelandic original by Balthasar Kormakuar.
Nigel Andrews - Financial Times
It's a good thing Mark Wahlberg is so effortlessly charming, because that's part of what keeps this rather generic heist thriller rolling along as smoothly as it does.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Kormakur's thriller sets sail with enough puff, dynamics and intrigue to see it safely dock at the end of its voyage, complete with devilish humour and an expert lead at the helm in Wahlberg.
Lisa Giles-Keddie - Real.com
With the action of Icelandic heist thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam relocated to New Orleans and Panama for Hollywood remake Contraband, the 'reformed crook forced into one-last job' plot feels even more routine but Wahlberg gives the role his best shot.
Jason Best - Movie Talk
Needlessly convoluted subplots and crummy supporting characters suffocate the Farraday dynamic.
Adam Woodward - Little White Lies
There isn't a single moment in this film that feels authentic...
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Kate Beckinsale is wasted as his wife and a smug ending leaves a slightly sour taste but a well cast Wahlberg carries the day.
Henry Fitzherbert - Daily Express
While charting familiar waters, the plot moves swiftly and efficiently, building a good head of steam over the first hour before exploding during the Panamanian highway robbery.
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
Watchable, if occasionally predictable thriller heightened by strong performances and some offbeat location work, though the script has a few problems and isn't nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Sure it's derivative, but it's also colorful, twisty, and fast-paced enough in execution.
Bruce Bennett - Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
The result is unlikely to linger long in the memory, but it's enormous fun while it lasts...
Tom Huddleston - Time Out
Contraband is a cut above cookie-cutter heist thrillers, and director Baltasar Kormakur looks ready for the big time.
David Hughes - Empire Magazine
The film puts the word 'con' in Contraband because its primary goal is to rob you of your money. If you plan on seeing it, please locate your nearest emergency exits before the lights go down.
Cameron Williams - The Popcorn Junkie
Kormakur's talent shows itself best when handling the sheer immensity of his props. The freighter and its containers are used to great effect, their sheer weight and bulk providing action scenes that are highly unusual and innovative.
CJ Johnson - ABC Radio (Australia)
Don't expect glamorous outlaws, sunny locales and exotic masterplans - this low-key thriller lifts the rusted lid off an all-too-real world of despairing criminality.
Jamie Graham - Total Film
...generic, entirely uninvolving...
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
It meanders along with poor developed characters and culminates with a weak finale that tries too hard to please.
Matthew Toomey - ABC Radio Brisbane
Baltasar Kormakur does a respectable job of maintaining the tension throughout Contraband
Dominic Corry - Flicks.co.nz
Wahlberg and the rest of the excellently chosen cast keep us engaged, even though the screenplay and direction are full of holes and contrivances
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Fond nods to Wahlberg's cinematic past ("It's like the size of a Mini Cooper") are thrown in, and it's imaginatively shot, yet it all feels rather too familiar.
Ed Gibbs - The National
CONTRABAND's plot (remade from a 2008 Icelandic thriller) is pretty creaky, but Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur's execution is scrappy and energetic.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Common Sense Media
a moderately enjoyable, generally preposterous thriller of minimal ambitions
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
The only real subterfuge this film has committed has been against paying audiences.
Dan Lybarger - KC Active
Inspired cast and intelligent twists elevate Contraband.
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
Smuggles a few thrills into January
Robert Denerstein - Movie Habit
Based on a 2010 film from Iceland, something seems to have gotten lost in the translation...
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
The storyline is driven by too many nick-of-time scenarios, the repetitive nature of which gradually decrease their impact.
Todd Jorgenson - Cinemalogue.com
Its foreign antecedent bore the moniker Reykjavik-Rotterdam, but perhaps mindful that many Americans would mistake these two major European cities for brands of beer, the action has been switched to New Orleans-Panama.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
... gritty and tense ...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
Entertainingly gritty until an ending that seems to go against all that has preceded it.
Rich Heldenfels - Akron Beacon Journal
Not designed to win any awards... but frankly, it's more successful at what it's doing and a heck of a lot more watchable than most of what is designed to win awards.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
This standard heist thriller is a composite of knock-offs, but when Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America is among the sources ripped off, the quality is pretty high.
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Save Your Money
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
...an enjoyable burst of silly escapism coated with thin layer of lowlife grime, suggesting a darker reality than it's willing to commit to. It's kind of like cruising through a rough neighborhood from the safety of your bulletproof limo.
Corey Hall - Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Contrived, predictable and formulaic, the most compelling scenes are nautical, incolving freighter ships with claustrophobic interiors, dock workers and maritime law.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
t's not the Tom Cruise vehicle that's playing in the auditorium next door. Still, 'Contraband' is an entertaining heist flick. Based on an Icelandic movie, it's an enjoyable exercise in eluding capture.
Linda Cook - KWQC-TV (Iowa)
After a holiday season of more serious fare, it's nice to see the new year start off with a bang.
Michael A. Smith - MediaMikes
This is an entertaining, fast-paced thriller with good performances by a fine cast.
Tony Medley - Tolucan Times
Agreeable popcorn entertainment to wash away weighty awards season pretension.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
the reason for the remake is nowhere apparent. It is not suspenseful. It is not high-action. The dialogue is as flat as the delta mud, and the direction by Kormakur is a study in understanding style, but not storytelling
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
A testament to January's reputation as the worst month for new movie releases, "Contraband" is a purely disposable crime thriller.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Rob Hunter - Film School Rejects
Contraband generally succeeds well at what it wants to do. It is a gritty, exciting film, with some cool action sequences and a cathartic conclusion.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
There's not a lot to think about while watching it and we've seen some of this plot before in other films, but for a movie opening in January, it's actually pretty damn good.
Scott Nash - Three Movie Buffs
A film can't just rely on the surefire ingredients a big-budget film needs to become a box-office success. This film did, and because "Contraband" played it too safe and didn't take risks, its surefire bet misfires.
Adam Fendelman - HollywoodChicago.com
... a messy amalgam of "The Departed" and a jacked-up "Fast and the Furious" installment ... The camerawork is de rigueur twitchy, as if the guy behind the lens has just snorted several lines of blow.
Glenn Lovell - CinemaDope
Contraband does nothing wrong; it's just that what the movie does isn't particularly involving.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
Should have been a lot better. But really, what were you expecting?
Kevin Carr - 7M Pictures
A perfect fit for release during the first month of a new year when expectations are low. Guzikowski in his filmmaking debut appears to have thrown all the contrived relationships and unlikely coincidences from the original film into a blender. The...
Keith Cohen - Entertainment Spectrum
The biggest problem with the new Mark Wahlberg movie Contraband is that it can't decide if it wants to be a gritty crime drama, a rowdy action movie or a light-hearted heist film.
Mathew DeKinder - Suburban Journals of St. Louis
There's hardly a single original idea in the movie, which is pretty ironic considering the film itself is about counterfeiting.
Jason Zingale - Bullz-Eye.com
New Orleans smuggler forced to pay off an in-law's debts must outwit a rival gang when he is double-crossed. Sturdy remake of the Icelandic thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
Don't think too much and you'll be fine.
Rob Vaux - Mania.com
If ever there were a typical January movie, it's Contraband, a film so dreary (and downright distasteful) that no studio would think of releasing it in December, when all eyes are focused on quality.
Leonard Maltin - Leonard Maltin's Picks
A reasonably solid thriller, built on equal parts action and suspense, and punctuated by the occasional bit of deft rug-pulling.
Mike Scott - Times-Picayune
A tidy little heist/thriller starring Mark Wahlberg doing what he does best: Playing the underdog who always seems to gain the upper hand.
Christopher Lloyd - Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Contraband squanders its tiny bit of goodwill with a hotdogging, "gritty" attitude that's never reflected in the actual story.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
I confess to be unfamiliar with the vagaries of illicit foreign-goods transport, but I have to think it's more exciting than the rote action that unfolds in this movie.
Thomas Leupp - Hollywood.com
What keeps this from being the nifty little actioner it might have been? The writing mostly.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Mark Wahlberg struggles to deliver the goods in 'Contraband'.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
A dozen nail-biting, hold your breath and hold on to your seat action sequences more than make up for the film's flaws.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
Not brilliant, but certainly entertaining. Wahlberg plays his go-to blue-collar good guy with a continued ease, even while being upstaged by Ribisi's and Foster's off-kilter wackadoos.
Kimberly Gadette - Doddle
The picture offers absolutely no surprises and only one moment of actual suspense.
Ethan Alter - Television Without Pity
Frankly, Wahlberg has outgrown movies like this. And so have we.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
The ever-mounting complications start to feel a little ridiculous about an hour in, but Kormakur keeps the action moving so swiftly that I didn't really mind.
Norman Wilner - NOW Toronto
As bland and inconsequential as its name.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
Everyone needs a little action now and then, right? Unfortunately, a little action is all you'll get.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
Technically, there isn't any one thing in this movie that stands out as spectacular. However, as a whole, it actually works.
Grae Drake - Movies.com
There are no surprises. There is no excitement. The action isn't cool. The violence doesn't gut-punch you.
Dave White - Movies.com
An enjoyable movie when you don't have high expectations.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Compelling in the moment but adding up to less than the sum of its parts, 'Contraband' is pretty standard fare as far as pulpy thrillers go.
Contraband only really rouses to life when it provides an almost documentarian depiction of smuggling. ... But it's still not enough to keep Contraband from falling into a formulaic finale.
Jim Vejvoda - IGN Movies
A little unfocused, but still a very solid action thriller. Good to see lower-key action in this age of big-budget pyrotechnics.
Chris Bumbray - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
Stars Mark Wahlberg in the kind of earnest good-guy role that always exposes the actor's weakness playing characters who aren't aggressive or larger-than-life.
Eugene Novikov - Film Blather
There's a frothy, almost whimsical undercurrent quietly bubbling beneath the dead-serious story.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
"Contraband" is basically a B-programmer enhanced by a strong cast and a solid storyline.
Bob Bloom - Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
This universal story of a man caught up in circumstances beyond his control should play well as 2012's first true action entry.
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
Not even Mark Wahlberg taking off his shirt can save this poorly executed thriller from deserving nothing more than a quick trip to the DVD discount bin.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Tense, high speed action but with terrible acting, especially Ribisi and J.K. Simmons.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com
A by-the-numbers heist flick of such predictability that at several points you wonder why it's even unfolding.
Kurt Loder - Reason Online
A serviceable thriller with a fast pace but not much of the grit and humour that set the original apart.
John Hazelton - Screen International
Contraband makes for a fun flick at first, until a nasty -- and tonally inconsistent -- misogynistic streak kills the joy.
Luke Y. Thompson - E! Online
It's a thriller distinctly lacking in thrills.
Soren Anderson - Seattle Times
In order to pay it forward, Wahlberg needs to direct it somewhere else, and on and on, until every country has a version of this thing.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
The film would have been more interesting if Wahlberg was a retired mime who had to escape one last invisible box.
Graham Killeen - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
An obligingly tense, scruffy addition to the one-last-crime genre.
Alison Willmore - Movieline
A convoluted plot and the wasting of some decent actors, including an out-of-place Kate Beckinsale, makes "Contraband" just so much lost cargo. Paul Chambers, CNN.
Paul Chambers - CNNRadio
A far more palatable potboiler than what's usually puked up in January, "Contraband" finds Mark Wahlberg transplanting his hardscrabble Beantown ideals to the bayou. The result is a shrewdly efficient, if imperfect and erratic, Murphy's Law thriller.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
A dull, inert action movie...a shipment it's easy to label return to sender.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
It's a decent enough action vehicle with plenty of violence and a director crazy enough to cast scenery masticators Ben Foster and Giovanni Ribisi in the same film...
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Oh, not another one last job movie!
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
It's pedestrian filmmaking, and this cast deserves better.
Ann Lewinson - Kansas City Star
Contraband is a film to be remembered, vaguely.
Scott Tobias - NPR
And then there's the predictability of the "surprise" villain; I won't spoil it here, but if you don't guess who it is well before the reveal, then I sincerely hope you enjoyed seeing your very first movie.
the cinematic equivalent of watching someone lay expensive tile
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
At this point, I think Giovanni Ribisi has been sent back in time by the machines to terminate subtle screen acting.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Involving, smartly paced and well-plotted, "Contraband" is not a movie you're going to remember for the rest of your life, but it sends you out of the theater with a feeling that your entertainment money has been well-spent.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
With all the tension and destruction, "Contraband" is a superior piece of commercial gratification likely to generate plenty of legal revenue at the boxoffice.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
A middling mix of drawn-out drama and underwhelming action that's never very fun or very smart.
Geoff Berkshire - Metromix.com
Kormakur and his collaborators want to tell a simple story cleanly, efficiently, and with a refreshing dearth of frills. They more or less realize their aspirations because they aim so low.
Nathan Rabin - AV Club
A competent genre movie enlivened by vivid sense of place/culture - shot on location in New Orleans, delving into the world of merchant seaman/dock workers/smugglers.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Contraband is a tidy little thriller that makes up in execution what it lacks in originality.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
A convoluted caper chock full of holes.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
Semi-effective heist thriller, in which the gritty style and visual floruishes can compensate only up to a point for the formulatic tale and generic characters.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Wahlberg sleepwalks through yet another blue-collar tough-guy role, and Beckinsale, who's kicked plenty of ass on her own, is wasted as the helpless damsel in distress.
Josh Bell - Las Vegas Weekly
If ingeniousness is a foreign concept to Contraband, so too are time and space.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine