Chris (Wahlberg) is a notorious smuggler who has gone straight to have a quiet life with his wife Kate (Beckinsale) and their two young kids. But when Kate's brother (Jones) falls afoul of New Orleans thug Briggs (Ribisi), Chris and his pal Sebastian (Foster) have to plan "one last job" to get the family off the hook. This involves Chris and Andy travelling by ship to Panama to collect counterfeit bills from a crazy dealer (Luna), then furtively returning to America. But of course nothing goes to plan.
The script is so blunt that we feel battered within about 10 minutes, as the story lurches from one contrivance to another. And this continues right to the end, with such obstacles as the ship crashing into a dock, a money-drugs switcheroo, a character lapsing into substance abuse, a frantically crazed (and irrelevant) armoured car heist, and nosey customs officials. But Chris is such an expert that he makes sneaking, hiding, driving and even welding look easy.
Director Kormakur (who starred in the original Icelandic version, Reykjavik-Rotterdam) assembles this without ever resorting to subtlety. The characters are trite stereotypes that give actors like Foster and Ribisi plenty of scope to chomp mercilessly on the scenery. The dialog never attempts to obscure the cliches. The score consists only of "isn't this scary" electronic pulsing. And action scenes feature blinding violence that makes a rather frightening point.
Indeed, the film teaches us that, to survive the economic downturn, we need to turn to theft and fraud and be clever enough to deceive (or kill) the cops and/or baddies who are trying to stop us. At one point, virtually everyone in the movie says, "You better do this or I'll kill you." And none of them are exaggerating. But we're supposed to believe that since everyone is dirty except Chris (sort of), it's all good. Except that it's not.
Run time: 109 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th January 2012
Box Office USA: $66.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $63.1M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Working Title Films, Blueeyes Productions, Leverage Management, Closest to the Hole Productions, Farraday Films, Leverage Entertainment, StudioCanal
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 77
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Screenwriter: Aaron Guzikowski
Starring: Mark Wahlberg as Chris Farraday, Kate Beckinsale as Kate Farraday, Ben Foster as Sebastian Abney, Giovanni Ribisi as Tim Briggs, J.K. Simmons as Captain Camp, William Lucking as Bud Farraday, Diego Luna as Gonzalo, Caleb Landry Jones as Andy, Robert Wahlberg as John Bryce, Lukas Haas as Danny Raymer, David O'Hara as Jim Church, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as Olaf, Jason Mitchell as Walter, Paul LeBlanc as CBP Official, Amber Gaiennie as Danny's Bride
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