So, I saw Contraband. I tried to go see an advance screening of Man on a Ledge, but I left work too late and by the time I got to the theater it was full. Thanks, traffic! (also—full disclosure—I stopped by the Gap to buy some yoga pants for $25.00 because a girl’s gotta have priorities). Anyway, the only movie that was starting in the next 15 minutes was Contraband. Which takes me back to my initial statement: I saw Contraband.
The plot essentially boils down to this: Marky Mark is a retired smuggler who gets sucked back into the game for the cliched “one more job” when his dumb brother-in-law screws something up. When I saw the tailer I thought it looked like a fun movie, and it lived up to that expectation. I still find Marky Mark very attractive, even though it’s been 20 years since I holed up in my room with the Funky Bunch memorizing the lyrics to “Wildside.” He’s manly, and yet he’s sensitive enough to care about animals and your mother. You almost believe that he could’ve taken down United Flight 93 had he been on board, but only if he was wearing his magical black leather motorcycle jacket (seriously, I’m convinced that he negotiates his contracts so that he can wear that jacket in every movie; I feel like I haven’t seen him without it since he stopped parading around in his Calvin Kleins).
But this movie isn’t just about Marky Mark, you guys. It’s also about Kate Beckinsale’s blonde hair (she’s so pretty) and American accent. And it’s also about Ben Foster being such an amazing actor that you wonder why he isn’t in more movies. Maybe it’s because, like me, movie producers can only think of him as the nerdy Tucker from that mid-90’s Disney show “Flash Forward.” But then I remind myself that he’s so much more than that, and producers should do the same!! For example, he’s great at being a bad guy (see Alpha Dog; 3:10 to Yuma). And I think he could make a nice career out of playing the best friend/brother/business partner of the main character in many a Hollywood action/heist movie. So, you know, I hope that happens. I like him.
But anyway, this movie was a fun time. At first I wasn’t sure how exciting it would be to watch a guy ride a freighter to Panama and back, but they definitely figured out how to add some interest to the plot. They didn’t reinvent the wheel, mind you, but I found myself questioning where the story was going to go. Sure, I was able to predict a large portion of the outcomes, but it kept me interested nonetheless.
With that being said, I do have two complaints. (1) Why the FUCK was Giovanni Ribisi speaking with such a high-pitched voice?!?! I mean, I realize he’s not exactly a baritone to begin with, but the voice he was using was annoying to the point that it was distracting. The entire time he was on screen I was just praying that he wouldn’t say anything. “Just express your character’s angst by punching a wall or something, Giovanni!,” I found myself thinking. “You’re a good actor; you can translate your character’s emotions with facial expressions, can’t you? Do you have to speak words?” It was ridiculous. The movie takes place in New Orleans, but he wasn’t even trying to do a Cajun accent as far as I could tell. Needless to say, I am not a fan of whatever acting method he adopted for this role.
(2 ) A very pivotal plot point—and this is not, I repeat is NOT, a spoiler (well, it’s not a major spoiler at least)—hinges on Kate Beckinsale’s cell phone ring being louder than a cement truck. Either that or Marky Mark has EXCEPTIONAL hearing. And not just a normal level of exceptionalism, I’m talking exceptional for someone who has lost at least two of their other senses and therefore already has a heightened sense of hearing.
But despite those two troubling elements, I left the movie not terribly pissed at myself for missing the Man on a Ledge screening. I’m just grateful Joyful Noise wasn’t the only movie playing, because “feel good” movies have the opposite effect on my naturally dour sensibility. At least Contraband didn’t make me want to drive my car into oncoming traffic on the way home; I rolled my eyes in a few places, but that’s practically an involuntary reaction for me whenever cell phones are louder than cement trucks, so it didn’t make me enjoy the movie any less.
Contraband: Put it in your Netflix Queue