"“Good fun and compelling, if a little overstated...”"

It’s increasingly frustrating to see successful European films remade in Hollywood, almost as if faith cannot be bestowed upon an original story simply because it's in a foreign language. However, Contraband is a little different as Finnish director Baltasar Kormákur is remaking a film that he himself was once a part of. Except Kormákur wasn't director of  the 2008 production Reykjavik-Rotterdam, but was in-fact the star role.

Mark Wahlberg takes on the part of Chris Farraday (formerly played by Kormákur), a domineering and well-versed smuggler, yet despite having the ability to pull off such a heist – has given up on this livelihood, and is now happily married and settled down with the beautiful Kate (Kate Beckinsale) and their two young sons.

Such tranquillity in life is soon jeopardised when Kate's brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) finds himself owing a vast amount of money to local drug-lord Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), and requires assistance from his brother-in law to get him out of trouble. The incensed Chris then organises a team of past accomplices to help delve into his former life and conduct a successful smuggling of millions of dollars of counterfeit bills from Panama, to secure the safety of his family from the indignant Briggs. Who, during his absence, are left in the hands of Chris's long-standing friend Sebastian (Ben Foster).

The quite traditional and archetypal storyline is matched by a typically conventional suspense-drama, certainly enjoyable and gripping, but ultimately a bit too predictable. In this respect, Contraband is exactly what you would expect and hope for, proving an ideal choice if this is the sort of film you're in the mood for.

In fairness, Contraband does bear some thrilling sequences, consistently suspenseful, keeping you engrossed throughout, almost like an elongated episode from a television series such as Hustle. The tension and enjoyment comes in that the skilled smugglers are taking on what appears to be an impossible task, as the audience are led to believe they'll never be able to pull it off. However, you are always confident things will go to plan, although perhaps a little too convinced of it, taking away some of the intensity.

The tenseness is enhanced by the setting in which the majority of the film is set – over two days on a ship. Being out in the Pacific Ocean adds a feeling of seclusion and idleness which enhances the taut atmosphere, as Chris leaves Kate and his kids equally as isolated back in America.

Given the nature of the film, there are of course a few exaggerated moments, where the audience’s belief is tested, as the assembled smugglers seem to find a way out of the most desperate of situations. As the film progresses into its latter stages, inanity strikes, as Kormákur seems intent on tying up loose ends that initially appear somewhat untieable.

Wahlberg is certainly becoming one of Hollywood's safety nets where you are generally guaranteed a half-decent feature. Not only is he a safe bet for a part, but the actor possesses an authoritative and calming presence, making his character very easy to trust and put your faith in. He is in danger of seeming like a bit of a one-trick pony however, as The Departed star plays very similar roles in most of his films, and you're barely able to spot a difference between his character of Chris, to that of Micky Ward in The Fighter.

Talking of playing similar roles, Foster is very much in danger of being type-cast too, as a troubled and vulnerable loser drug addict, yet in his defence, this is a role which he plays incredibly well. The snide character of Sebastian is an example of such a character, and so are his roles in the recently-released Rampart, and the forthcoming 360. There is also a part for J.K. Simmons, as the ship's captain Camp, and I tend to like him in anything.

Ultimately Contraband is good fun and compelling, if a little overstated. Films that are so exemplary of their genre are often quite hard to critique, as they aren't anything to write home about necessarily, or one to pick holes in, but they do exactly what you expect and want them to do. Contraband is, as they say, what it is.