Contraband - Mark Wahlberg puts his best fist forward in a routine Hollywood remake

You probably won’t have seen the 2008 Icelandic heist thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam, but you’ll be all too familiar with its standard-issue story of the reformed crook drawn back into the world of crime to pull off one last job.

With the action relocated to New Orleans and Panama for Hollywood remake Contraband, the set-up feels even more routine but ever dependable star Mark Wahlberg gives the lead role his best shot. He plays ex-smuggler turned rock-solid family man Chris Farraday, who reluctantly returns to his old ways after his dumb-ass brother-in-law botches a smuggling job for vicious crime boss Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi). To pay off the debt, Chris heads for Panama on board a container ship, planning to return with millions in counterfeit bills. Of course, the enterprise proves far from plain sailing and Chris needs all his guile to evade the vigilance of the ship’s suspicious captain (JK Simmons) and survive a brush with a volatile Panamanian drug-runner (Diego Luna), while back home sundry thugs threaten his wife (Kate Beckinsale).

Even if the story is run-of-the-mill stuff, director Baltasar Kormákur (producer and star of the original film, as it happens) handles the action with crisp skill to match his film’s savvy protagonist.

On general release from Friday 16th March.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.