Contraband [Blu-Ray] Baltasar Kormakur

Contraband [Blu-Ray]Baltasar Kormakur
Something consistent throughout the works of Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur is his pitch-black sense of humour, which mixes an overly cynical, or realist, perspective on human nature with the incisive hilarity of their self-serving, often irrational and contradictory exploits. It's a viewpoint that defined his earlier, sexually liberal, idiosyncratic films like The Sea and 101 Reykjavik, but dissipated somewhat in crime fare like Inhale, A Little Trip to Heaven and the superlative Jar City. With Contraband, his remake of Reykjavik to Rotterdam (although, according to the commentary track included with the Blu-Ray, he wouldn't refer to it as such), which he also starred in, this surly and irreverent sensibility is back at the forefront. It helps that the subject matter, wherein a routine smuggling operation gone wrong forces retired criminal Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) back into the industry to protect his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) from unstable drug lord Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), isn't particularly grave. The narrative takes on a dark action comedy tone while following Farraday on a smuggling operation to Panama to obtain a crap-load of counterfeit money while his wife Kate (Kate Beckinsdale) suffers violent harassment from Briggs back at home. Even though the violence and situations maintain gritty realism and intensity, suggesting an overall seriousness, inappropriate humour about pointing a gun at a small child and dead Panamanian art thieves gives everything a sickly comic sensibility. It's a stylistic decision that makes this American remake a very different film than its Icelandic predecessor, despite having ostensibly the same plot. And even though some of the plot twists are a tad predictable, the general irreverence of the film and its propulsive nature make for actively engaging popcorn entertainment. Included with the Blu-Ray is the aforementioned commentary track, along with an extensive "Making of" that talks about filming in New Orleans and making this film distinct from the original. They smartly avoid discussing the message, which is that crime actually does pay, on occasion, in favour of the geographical subtext about how hard it is to get to the other side of the tracks in life. There's also a stunts supplement that expands on how they convincingly smashed Kate Beckinsdale's head into various objects (Universal)