REVIEW: MOJAVE

CAST

Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)
Louise Bourgoin (A Happy Event)
Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Dania Ramirez (Heroes)

Mojave is the brain child from the writer of ‘The Departed’. Add in a slew of great actors and the result is me, with high hopes for this movie. But within the first few minutes those hopes were drastically lowered. This is mainly due to the all around aimlessness of the story. Garrett Hedlund wanders into the desert and meets the hick version of Oscar Isaac. Than Hudlund inexplicably bludgeons Isaac and frames him for the murder of a police officer. So, Isaac follows Hedlund back to LA in hopes of exacting of his revenge. All of this roughly taking place with in the first ten or twenty minutes of the film. Now we have our story. What I liked most about ‘Mojave’ is the scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share. While there may only be two or three of them, I found them to be the best parts of the movie. Both sociopaths, it was interesting and sometimes rather funny to watch these two go back and forth.The only other aspect worth mentioning is the music. In this otherwise uninspired film, the music really helped capture the mood of each scene. Whether or not the scene actually has the desired affect on you is beside the point. Even though, more times than not, the music is really the only thing that helps move scenes forward. Other than these few things there really isn’t much that ‘Mojave’ offers. The performances are passable but almost every actor in the film feels miscast. All of them seem to over or under act in a strange attempt to give these flat characters meaning. And boy most of these characters are two dimensional. They worst offenders come in the form of Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins. These two come into the film as nothing more than vessels for director William Monahan to force in his own opinions. There is nothing more to them than that. They come into the film, spit their “political commentary”, and leave as quickly as they came.2As you watch this, it’s impossible not to think, “Wow, what the heck was that about?”. Not to mention the incredibly in your face social commentary. I understand that many of us are hopelessly addicted to our phones but do you have to pretend like EVERYONE is? And, do you seriously have to show this in every single scene?? The worst part is, they don’t just talk about it. There is one scene in particular where a character exits a bar and passes a line of people. ALL of which are on their phone, and to make things even less subtle the film feels the need to add phone clicks and buzzes. This is not a film that children are going to see so do you have to make it this obvious?

maxresdefaultI’m pretty sure that I do actually have a brain and I can pick up on subtly. So why ram it down my throat with next to no subtly? Aside from the two or three scenes that Isaac and Hedlund share this is all the film does for its hour and a half run time. Use uncomfortably pretentious celebrity cameos to drive home the films own misguided views of the world. While it does do some things right I can’t say that this is worth recommending. This overall standardness is enough to send ‘Mojave’ spiraling into obscurity.

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REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Josh Duhamel (Win A Date With Tad Hamilton)
Laura Haddock (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Santiago Cabrera (Heores)
Isabela Moner (Splitting Adam)
John Turturro (Barton Fink)
Jerrod Carmichael (Bad Neighbors)
Glenn Morshower(24)
Stanley Tucci (Easy A)
Liam Garrigan (The Legend of Hercules)
Mitch Pileggi (Stargate Atlantis)
Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
Peter Cullen (Dugeons and Dragons)
Erik Aadahl (Godzilla)
Ken Watanabe (Inception)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Jim Carter  (The Golden Compass)
Omar Sy (Jurassic World)
John Dimaggio (Futurama)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Tom Kenny (Superhero Squad Show)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Gemma Chan (Fantastic Beasts and Where Find Them)

In 484 AD, King Arthur’s wizard Merlin forges an alliance with the Knights of Iacon, a group of twelve Transformers who have hidden on Earth. The Knights give Merlin an alien staff, and fuse into Dragonstorm to help Arthur triumph over the Saxons.In the present day, most of the governments on Earth have declared Transformers outlawed, and the multinational Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) has been formed to destroy the alien robots. Despite the absence of Optimus Prime, who left the planet to search for his creator, new Transformers continue to arrive regularly; the newest ship to arrive crash-lands in the half of the ruins of Chicago, where it is found by a group of children. When a TRF mecha confronts the kids, they are saved by Izabella, a survivor of the Battle of Chicago and her Transformer companions Sqweeks and Canopy, but Canopy is killed by the TRF in the process. Bumblebee and Cade Yeager arrive and help them escape, but Yeager is unable to save the Transformer in the ship. Before he dies, the knightly robot attaches a metallic talisman to Yeager’s body—an act observed by Decepticon scout Barricade, who reports this to his leader, Megatron.On the far reaches of the Solar System, Optimus discovers that the Transformers’ homeworld, Cybertron, now disassembled into pieces, is heading directly for Earth. He finds the being in control of Cybertron’s movement, the sorceress Quintessa, who professes to be the maker he is searching for. The staff which the Knights gave to Merlin was stolen by Quintessa, and using her powers, she places Optimus under her control, dubs him “Nemesis Prime” and charges him with recovering it. Earth, she reveals, is actually Cybertron’s “ancient enemy” Unicron and she intends to drain his life force so that Cybertron can be restored.TRF member and former Autobot ally William Lennox brokers a deal between the TRF and Megatron, releasing from their custody a squad of Decepticons that will help Megatron recover the talisman from Cade. The Decepticons hunt Yeager down, following him to his junkyard hideout in South Dakota, where he and many of the surviving Transformers are holed up. During the chaos of the ensuing battle, Yeager is approached by Cogman, a Transformer envoy of British Lord Sir Edmund Burton, who takes him and Bumblebee to England to meet his master. There, Burton arranges a meeting between Yeager and Viviane Wembly, an Oxford professor. Wembly has just been kidnapped by the Autobot Hot Rod, using his long-term disguise as her Citroën DS. Burton explains that he is the last living member of the “Witwiccan” order, an ancient brotherhood dedicated to guarding the secret history of Transformers on Earth. He also reveals that Wembly is the last descendant of Merlin, and that she must find and use his Staff to prevent the impending destruction of Earth by Cybertron.Fleeing the TRF, Yeager and Wembly follow clues left by the latter’s father that lead them, Bumblebee, and Cogman to take the submarine HMS Alliance into the sea to find the Cybertronian Knights’ sunken ship, in which they discover the tomb of Merlin and the staff. Wembly activates the staff, and the ship rises to the surface; the TRF arrives to confront the group, but several Knights awaken and attack them. The attack is cut short by the arrival of the mind-controlled Optimus, and a battle between Optimus and Bumblebee ensues. At its peak, the normally-mute Bumblebee finally speaks, the sound of his voice proving enough to shock Optimus free of Quintessa’s control. Taking advantage, Megatron, who is revealed to be conspiring for Quintessa all along, arrives and steals the staff. As he flees with it, the Knights attack Optimus. However, Yeager, whose talisman becomes the sword Excalibur, stops the fight. Realizing that he is the last Knight, the Knights yield to Yeager, who urges Optimus to protect the Earth once more.Megatron delivers the staff to Quintessa, who begins draining the life force of Earth/Unicron via Stonehenge. When the military intervenes, Megatron shoots Burton, who dies with Cogman at his side. Using a ship procured by the Autobot Daytrader, the Autobots arrive to join the fight, landing on Cybertron and battling against the Decepticons and Quintessa’s Infernocons. Optimus and his Autobots, backed up by the Knights as Dragonstorm, vanquish their foes. Optimus defeats Megatron, while Bumblebee shoots and apparently kills Quintessa. Wembly removes the staff, stopping Cybertron’s destruction of Earth, but leaving the two planets connected. Optimus declares that humans and Transformers must work together to rebuild their worlds, and sends a message calling any surviving Autobots to come home.In a mid-credits scene, scientists inspect one of the horns of Unicron, which is extending out of the desert. Quintessa, who has survived and is disguised as a human, arrives and offers them a way to destroy Unicron.The transformers movies are known for being hated. Me I personally think these movies are just fun. That’s why we watch them, not for an outstanding Oscar worthy film. I know I am in the minority that I love Age of extinction. So I was pretty excited to see this film. The Last Knight is probably the best since the first!

REVIEW: TED 2

CAST

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys)
Amanda Seyfried (Pan)
Jessica Barth (Next)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
John Slattery (Mad men)
Patrick Warburton (Get Smart)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: Ds9)
Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom)
Cocoa Brown (Big Fat Important Movie)
John Carroll Lynch (The Founder)
Jessica Szohr (Love Bite)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Sebastian Arcelus (Split)
Dennis Haysbert (Heat)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Patrick Stewart (Ameircan Dad)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Ds9)
Ralph Garman (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Maggie Geha (Gotham)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)

John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) has been divorced from Lori Collins for six months. Meanwhile, his best friend Ted (Seth MacFarlane), marries his girlfriend, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). One year later, with their marriage is beginning to break-down so they decide to have a child. As Ted can not have children, John agrees to help Ted find a sperm donor, They asked Sam J. Jones but he refuses due to a low sperm count, they try unsuccessfully to break into Tom Brady’s house and steal his sperm. Ultimately, John offers to donate his sperm.Despite Ted and John’s efforts, Tami-Lynn’s historical drug use has rendered her infertile and the couple decide to adopt. As background checks are carried out, Ted brings his legal status as a person into question. The state authorities of Massachusetts declare Ted property rather than a person, resulting in the loss of his job at a grocery store – shortly after reassuring a customer (Liam Neeson) that buying a box of Trix, as an adult, will not bring him to any harm. Furthermore, his marriage to Tami-Lynn is annulled.John suggests that they take the state to court, and their case is assigned to a novice lawyer pro-bono, Samantha Leslie Jackson (Amanda Seyfried). The three bond over their love of marijuana as they prepare to present the case.Meanwhile, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), Ted’s life-long stalker and would-be abductor, is now employed as a janitor at the headquarters of toy company Hasbro, in New York City. He convinces the company CEO to hire an expert attorney (John Slattery) to ensure that Ted maintains his status as property, therefore leaving him open to seizure by the firm to create more living teddy bears.Despite Samantha’s best efforts, the court rules against Ted. Disheartened but desperate, the trio contact Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman), a highly respected civil rights attorney, hoping he’ll take the case and overturn the court’s decision. Driving to Manhattan to meet him, Ted crashes into a hidden marijuana patch, where Samantha and John realize their attraction for each other. The next day, the trio meet Meighan, who is sympathetic to Ted’s plight but ultimately refuses the case, as he believes he has not significantly contributed to humanity due to his juvenile slacker lifestyle.Ted, angry at the injustice and jealous of Samantha and John’s new relationship, runs off. Donny follows him as he wanders into the New York Comic-Con. Once inside, Donny attempts to kidnap Ted, who flees and contacts John for help. John and Samantha arrive at Comic-Con and search for Ted, arriving as Donny is about to cut him open. As they make their escape, Donny cuts the cables holding up a model of the USS Enterprise and it swings towards Ted. John pushes Ted out of the way, takes the hit, and is knocked unconscious. Ted identifies Donny and he is arrested.At the hospital, Samantha, Ted and Tami-Lynn rejoice when John recovers. Patrick Meighan decides to take the case, telling them he has been inspired by John’s selflessness and Ted’s emotions over his fallen friend. Meighan gets the ruling overturned by demonstrating that Ted is self-aware, that he feels complex emotions, and is capable of empathy. Outside the court, Ted re-proposes to Tami-Lynn. After they are re-married, Ted and Tami-Lynn, adopting the surname of “Clubberlang”, adopt a baby boy, whom they name Apollo Creed, while John and Samantha happily pursue their own relationship.A good laugh, even  better than the original in my opinion. If you like Ted/Family Guy/other Seth Macfarlane shows, I’d definitely recommend this

 

REVIEW: TED

CAST

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Joel McHale (Spider-Man 2)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Aedin Mincks (New Girl)
Patrick Warburton (Get Smart)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Matt Walsh (Semi-Pro)
Jessica Barth (Next)
Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Ralph Garman (Yoga Hosers)
Jessica Stroup (Prom Night)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Ryan Reynolds (Buried)
Norah Jones (My Blueberry Nights)
Tom Skerritt (Alien)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Wu (Hot Tub Time Machine)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)

In 1985, 8-year-old John Bennett is a lonely child living in Norwood, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, who wished for his new Christmas gift—a jumbo teddy bear named Ted—to come to life and become his friend. The wish coincides with a shooting star and comes true; word spread and Ted was briefly a celebrity.27 years later, John (now 35) and Ted are still living in Boston, and are still staunch companions enjoying a hedonistic life. John is dating Lori Collins, who is from Philadelphia. As their anniversary approaches, Lori hopes to marry John but feels he could not move forward with Ted around. John is hesitant about making Ted leave, but he is persuaded to act when they find Ted at home with four prostitutes.John finds Ted his own apartment and a job at a grocery store, where Ted begins dating his coworker Tami-Lynn. Lori learns that John has been skipping work—using her as an excuse—to continue to spend most of his time with Ted. John and Lori are invited to a party put on by Lori’s womanizing manager Rex, but Ted lures John away to a party at his apartment with the offer to meet Sam J. Jones, the star of their favorite film, Flash Gordon. John intends to stay only a few minutes but gets caught up in the occasion. Lori finds John there and breaks up with him. John blames Ted for ruining his life and tells him to stay away.John and Ted confront each other about their ruined friendship and they fight but manage to reconcile. To repair John’s relationship with Lori, Ted arranges for an old lover, singer Norah Jones, to help by having John express his love for Lori with a song during her concert. He does an off-key rendition of All Time High by Rita Coolidge and is booed offstage. Lori is touched by the attempt and returns to her apartment where Ted confesses about his role in John’s relapse and offers to leave them alone forever if she talks to John.Lori is persuaded, but Ted is kidnapped by Donny, an obsessive stalker who idolized Ted as a child. Donny plans to make Ted his brutish son Robert’s toy. Ted manages to reach a phone to contact John but is immediately recaptured. Realizing Ted is in danger, John and Lori locate Donny’s residence and track him to rescue Ted. The chase leads to Fenway Park, where John punches Robert, but during the chase, Ted is damaged and falls onto the field ripped entirely in half. A police car arrives, forcing Donny to flee. John and Lori gather Ted’s stuffing and Ted relays his wish that John be happy with Lori before dying from his injuries.Unable to accept Ted’s death, a distraught John and Lori attempt to repair Ted, which proves useless. Feeling guilty about the incident, Lori makes a wish on a shooting star. The next morning, John hangs his head while looking over Ted’s dead body. Fortunately, Ted is magically restored and reconciles with John and Lori, encouraging them to resume their relationship. John and Lori are married (with Sam Jones as the presiding minister), and Ted comfortably accepts having a life of his own as he and Tami-Lynn continued their love affair. Sam Jones attempts to restart his career and moves into a studio apartment with Brandon Routh. Rex gives up his pursuit of Lori, goes into a deep depression, and dies of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Donny gets arrested by the Boston Police Department for kidnapping a plush toy, but charges are dropped. Robert hires a personal trainer, loses a significant amount of weight, and goes on to become Taylor Lautner.Comedies are hit and miss, or run out of steam towards the end. Ted, however, is not one of these and this is why it is probably one of the best and most original comedies I have ever seen. Perhaps the plot is fairly standard, but with the creator of Family Guy at the helm, things don’t always go the way you expect.

REVIEW: THE DEPARTED

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Jack Nicholson (Batman)
Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Anthony Anderson (Transformrs)
Alec Baldwin (Mission Impossible 5)
Kevin Corrigan (Superbad)
James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
David O’Hara (Braveheart)
Mark Rolston (Eraser)
Kristen Dalton (Tango & Cash)
J.C. Mackenzie (Dark Angel)

As a child, Colin Sullivan (Damon) had been introduced to organized crime by Irish-American mobster Frank Costello (Nicholson) in the Irish neighborhood of South Boston. Over the years, Costello grooms him to become a mole inside the Massachusetts State Police, until Sullivan is accepted into the Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on organized crime. Before graduating from the police academy, Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is recruited by Captain Queenan (Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Dignam (Wahlberg) to go undercover, as his family ties to organized crime make him a perfect infiltrator. He drops out of the academy and does time in prison on a fake assault charge to increase his credibility.

Each man infiltrates his respective organization, and Sullivan begins a romance with police psychiatrist Madolyn Madden (Farmiga). Costigan is seeing her under the terms of his probation, and they begin a relationship, too. After Costello escapes a sting operation, each mole becomes aware of the other’s existence. Sullivan is told to find the “rat” and asks Costello for information to identify the informer.

Costigan follows Costello into a porn theater, where Costello gives Sullivan an envelope containing personal information on his crew members. Costigan chases Sullivan through Chinatown. When it is over, neither man knows the other’s identity. Sullivan has Queenan tailed to a meeting with Costigan on the roof of a building. Queenan orders Costigan to flee while he confronts Costello’s men alone. The men then throw Queenan off the building to his death. When they exit, Costigan pretends he has come to join them. Television news reveals that crew member Delahunt (Rolston) has been an undercover cop, working for the Boston Police Department. Dignam resigns rather than work with Sullivan, who he suspects is the mole after he is asked why he had Queenan followed.

Using Queenan’s phone, Sullivan reaches Costigan, who refuses to abort his mission. Sullivan learns from Queenan’s diary of Costello’s role as an informant for the FBI, causing him to worry about his own identity being revealed. With Costigan’s help, Costello is traced to a cocaine drop-off, where a gunfight erupts between Costello’s crew and the police, which results in most of the crew being killed. Costello, confronted by Sullivan, admits he is an FBI informant. Costello tries to shoot Sullivan, but Sullivan shoots him multiple times. With Costello dead, Sullivan is applauded the next day by everyone on the force. In good faith, Costigan comes to Sullivan for restoration of his true identity and to be paid for his work, but notices the envelope from Costello on Sullivan’s desk and flees, finally realizing Sullivan is the enemy. Fearing retaliation, Sullivan erases Costigan’s records from the police computer system.

Sullivan is unaware that Madolyn had an affair with Costigan when she tells Sullivan that she is pregnant. Later, Sullivan finds her listening to a CD from Costigan containing incriminating recorded conversations between Costello and Sullivan. Sullivan unsuccessfully attempts to assuage her suspicions. He then contacts Costigan, who reveals that Costello recorded every one of their conversations, that Costello’s attorney left Costigan in possession of the recordings, and that Costigan intends to implicate Sullivan. The two agree to meet at the building where Queenan died.

On the roof, Costigan catches Sullivan off-guard and handcuffs him. As Costigan had secretly arranged, Trooper Brown (Anderson) appears on the roof as well. Shocked, Brown draws his gun on Costigan, who attempts to justify his actions by exposing Sullivan as Costello’s mole. Costigan asks Brown why Dignam did not accompany him as Costigan had requested, but Brown does not answer. Costigan leads Sullivan, his hostage, to the elevator. When it reaches the ground floor, Trooper Barrigan (Dale) shoots Costigan in the head, then shoots Brown, and afterward reveals to Sullivan that Costello had more than one mole in the police. Sullivan then shoots and kills Barrigan. At state police headquarters, Sullivan identifies Barrigan as the mole and has Costigan posthumously given the Medal of Merit. At Costigan’s funeral, Sullivan notices that Madolyn is tearful. As they leave the gravesite, Sullivan attempts to talk to her, but she ignores him. When Sullivan returns to his apartment, he is ambushed by Dignam, who shoots and kills him as he enters.With its clever plot, excellent acting and expert direction, The Departed is without doubt a brillaint film.

REVIEW: THE HAPPENING

 

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Betty Buckley (Wyatt Earp)
Ashlyn Sanchez (Crash)
Frank Collison (The Village)
Victoria Clark (Cradle Will Rock)
Jeremy Strong (Lincoln)
Brian O’ Halloran (Clerks)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Spencer Breslin (The Santa Clause 2)
Kristen Connolly (The Cabin In The Woods)

In New York City’s Central Park, people begin committing mass suicide. Initially believed to be caused by a bio-terrorist attack using an airborne neurotoxin, the behavior quickly spreads across the northeastern United States. Elliot Moore, a high school science teacher in Philadelphia, hears about the attacks and decides to go to Harrisburg by train with his wife, Alma. They are accompanied by his friend Julian and Julian’s eight-year-old daughter Jess. Julian’s wife is stuck in Philadelphia but is expected to meet them in Harrisburg. The train loses all radio contact en route and stops at a small town. They receive word that Philadelphia has been attacked by the toxin and Julian’s wife was not able to get on the train to Harrisburg, instead taking a bus to Princeton. Julian decides to go look for her, leaving his daughter with the Moores while he hitches a ride. However, when they get to Princeton, it has already been hit by the toxin. Succumbing to it, the driver runs the car into a tree and Julian commits suicide.

Elliot, Alma, and Jess hitch a ride with a nurseryman and his wife. The nurseryman believes that plants are responsible, as they can release chemicals to defend themselves from threats. The group are joined by other survivors and split into two groups, with Elliot, Alma, and Jess in the smaller group. When the larger group is affected by the toxin, Elliot realizes that the plants are targeting only large groups of people. He splits their group into smaller pockets and they walk along, arriving at a model home. Two other groups arrive on the property, triggering a neurotoxin attack, signaled by what appears to be wind blowing through the vegetation. The next house they come upon is sealed, its residents trying to protect themselves from the toxin. Elliot’s attempts to reason with them are deemed unsuccessful when the residents shoot Josh and Jared, two teenage boys whom Elliot had earlier befriended.
Elliot, Alma, and Jess next come upon the isolated house of Mrs. Jones, a negative, elderly eccentric who has no outside contact with society and is unaware of the current disaster. The following morning, Mrs. Jones becomes infected with the toxin. Realizing that the plants are now targeting individuals, Elliot locks himself in the basement but is separated from Alma and Jess, who are in the home’s springhouse out back. They are able to communicate through an old talking tube, and Elliot warns them of the threat. He expresses his love for her before deciding that if he is to die, he would prefer to spend his remaining time with her. The three leave the safety of their buildings and embrace in the yard, surprised to find themselves unaffected by the neurotoxin. The outbreak has abated as quickly as it began. Three months later, Elliot and Alma have adjusted to their new life with Jess as their adopted daughter. On television, an expert, comparing the event to a red tide, warns that the epidemic may have only been a warning. He states that humans have become a threat to the planet and that is why the plants have responded aggressively. Alma discovers she is pregnant and embraces Elliot with the news. In the Tuileries Gardens at the Louvre Palace in Paris, France, a scream is heard and everyone freezes in place as the wind rustles through the trees, signifying another attack by the plants.It’s ‘s unsettling, imaginative and downright disturbing in parts, a film that has a lot more to offer than by-the-numbers scares. The Happening is hugely refreshing, and a deserves a better reputation.

REVIEW: CONTRABAND

 

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Kate Beckinsale (Underworld)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class)
Lukas Haas (Inception)
Diego Luna (Milk)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is an ex-smuggler who now has a peaceful life with his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and their two sons in New Orleans. They learn that Kate’s brother Andy (Caleb Landry Jones) was smuggling drugs, but dropped them into the Mississippi River during a surprise inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Andy’s boss, mobster Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), threatens to kill Chris’ family if Andy doesn’t pay him back $700,000. Chris decides to raise the money by running contraband, working with his former smuggling partner, Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster), who now owns a legitimate construction company. Promising Kate he will not run drugs, Chris joins a cargo ship, planning to buy $10,000,000 in fake bills in Panama and smuggle them into the U.S. He is joined by Andy, his good friend Danny Raymer (Lukas Haas), and gets help from crew mates. After Briggs broke into Chris’ house and intimidated his wife and kids, Kate moves into Sebastian’s house for safety.

In Panama, Chris discovers that the only one who can provide high quality fake bills is crime lord Gonzalo (Diego Luna). Leaving Andy in the van with the money for the fake bills, Chris meets with Gonzalo to negotiate. Briggs calls Andy, threatens to kill one of Chris’ sons and forces him to take the money and buy cocaine. With the money gone, Chris and Danny agree to help Gonzalo rob an armored car in exchange for the fake bills. After a shootout which kill Gonzalo’s group along with numerous police and security officers, they successfully steals a Jackson Pollock painting that resembles a splattered tarp. Chris and Danny barely make it back to the ship with the fake bills and the painting. They drive the van with contraband into a container, which is loaded onto their cargo ship. Chris hits and berates Andy for using the money to buy cocaine, but apologizes when Andy explains the reason.

It is revealed that Sebastian is working with Briggs, and he desperately needs money to pay gangster Jim Church (David O’Hara). Sebastian calls Chris and learns that Chris plans to get rid of the cocaine Andy bought. Sebastian instructs Briggs to threaten Kate. Through Kate, Briggs warns Chris not to dump the cocaine. Chris realizes that Sebastian has betrayed him. Sebastian contacts the cargo ship’s Captain Camp (J. K. Simmons), with whom he has a partnership. He tells Camp of Chris’ smuggled contraband, and promises him a share if he secures it. Unable to get Chris to give up the contraband, Camp calls U.S. Customs to inspect the ship in New Orleans. The Customs agents find the container with Chris’ van, which is empty except for the paint splattered tarp, which they ignore.

Once Chris is on shore, Briggs and his thugs demand the drug package. Chris takes Briggs to Camp’s house, having made a duplicate key while on the ship, and knowingly activates the security system. Chris opens Camp’s carpet cleaner and retrieves the cocaine from it. While Briggs and his gang sit in Camp’s living room with the cocaine, Chris sneaks out. Camp awakens to the noise and comes into the living room as the police arrive. Both Briggs’s group and Camp are arrested for possession of the cocaine.

Warned by Chris, Kate leave Sebastian’s house. When she goes back to retrieve some personal items, Sebastian gets angry with her and accidentally pushes her against a bathtub. Thinking she is dead, he dumps her (unconscious) body in a yet to be poured foundation at one of his construction sites. Chris goes to Sebastian’s construction site and manages to locate and save Kate by calling her cellphone. Sebastian is arrested and sent to prison, where he is greeted by a lynch mob.

Danny retrieves the fake bills, which were dumped into the Mississippi River by Chris before docking in New Orleans. At a U.S. Customs auction, Andy buys the escape van earlier confiscated from the cargo ship, and finds the painting still in it. Church pays Chris $3 million for the fake currency and asks about the missing Jackson Pollock. Chris learns the painting can be fenced for over $20 million on the black market. The film ends with Chris, Kate, Andy and the kids beginning a new life in a waterfront house.

Contraband is a good action/suspense smuggler flick, that’s fast pace helps overlook some of it’s weaknesses. If you like Mark Wahlberg’s previous films then you’ll be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this.