What You Need To Know:
CONTRABAND is well made and acted, delivering lots of intense suspense. However, the moral elements of saving one’s family are spoiled by almost constant foul language. There’s also some very strong violence and drug references. Finally, CONTRABAND’s ending becomes a typical heist movie. Thus, the protagonist decides to keep his ill-gotten gains, even though the original impetus was to protect his family.
(PaPa, B, LLL, VVV, S, N, AA, DD, MM) Strong pagan worldview with some moral elements showing the ugly side of the drug and smuggling world focuses on a smuggler who sees the evil and wants out but, in the end, he and his friends benefit from stealing and counterfeiting money, though he tries to protect his family and his wife’s numskull brother; 154 obscenities (including many “f” words), five strong profanities, and six light profanities; some very strong and lots of strong violence includes very violent shootout between police and armored car guards with thieves, woman’s head slammed against a mirror, children threatened from villains with guns (one of which goes off), character’s head accidentally hits bathroom porcelain and puts life in danger, fighting; no actual sex but an attempt to engage in adultery rebuked by married woman; upper male nudity; alcohol use and violent drunkenness; smoking, cocaine use by villain in one scene, and references to drug smuggling; and, smuggling, stealing, counterfeiting, fencing stolen goods, dishonesty, theft, blackmail, betrayal, and corruption.
In CONTRABAND, Mark Wahlberg stars as a reformed smuggler drawn back into his old trade to protect his family. This ultra vulgar, violent movie excuses heinous behavior by making the motive the defense of one’s family. Ultimately, however, the protagonist saves his family but decides to get away with stealing and counterfeiting after the danger is gone.
The movie opens with a police raid on a freighter about to dock. During the raid, a young smuggler dumps his drug haul into the harbor to keep from being caught. The boy is then threatened with his life by the thugs awaiting the arrival of their drug shipment. The boy’s brother-in-law, Chris (Wahlberg), tries to save the boy’s life by offering to pay back the money for the drugs eventually, but the vicious criminal wants the money right away and threatens Chris’ family. So, Chris decides to do another run smuggling counterfeit money from Panama to protect his wife and two sons.
While he’s on his way to Panama, however, the thugs harass his wife and children some more. They threaten the family with guns and, at another point, harm his wife. Meanwhile, in Panama, things don’t go as planned and Chris winds up in the middle of a major gun battle trying to procure his contraband.
[SPOILERS FOLLOW] CONTRABAND is well made and well acted, delivering lots of intense suspense. The most positive thing about the movie is that Chris doesn’t come home and just kill all the bad guys. On the negative side, he eventually benefits from his smuggling. While the movie is by no means an advertisement to go into the smuggling business, it attempts to make audiences happy that he and his family benefit from his criminal behavior.
Movieguide® commends the fact the filmmakers didn’t succumb to the typical buildup to violent, deadly revenge against the villains who almost kill the hero’s family. However, CONTRABAND is full of almost constant foul language. It also has some very strong violence at a couple points, as well as references to illegal drugs. Finally, CONTRABAND’s ending becomes a typical heist movie where the protagonist gets away with his ill-gotten gains, even though the original impetus of his crime was to protect his family, including his wife and children.
All in all, therefore, CONTRABAND is unacceptable viewing.