December 8, 2012

Contraband (2012)

Marky Mark Wahlberg (does no one else still call him that?), Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale (can she even still be considered a "star" at this point?)

I know my blog has fallen into a sort of Family Guy-esque predicable format - start on a topic, run off on multiple tangents that may or may not have anything to do with the initial subject (and that may or may not last just a little too long), then wrap up with some final snarky remark as though I've been on topic the entire time. So I thought I'd shake things up a bit.

I want to start with my confusion over how Marky Mark has morphed into what we consider to be an action star. When did this happen? Look, I understand everyone that is famous in one way or another thinks that they are entitled to be famous in other arenas (which is why we now have to watch movies starring WWE stars and Justin Timberlake), but I somehow missed the moment in which we collectively thought to ourselves, "a former boy band member - he seems like someone who could turn into a badass on screen." Someone actually pinpointed the moment for me and told me it was the movie Fear that did it for them, but I think all anyone remembers about that movie is the roller coaster scene with Reese Witherspoon because the movie came out when I was, like, in middle school and middle schoolers are little hormonal perverts that remember stuff like that.

Anyway... overlooking the fact that Marky Mark is like, 5'4" (his bio claims 5'8", but those stats are more inflated than NBA programs), he does an okay job here. Action movies are really just the male counterpart to romantic comedies. Not to get all sexist here, but I don't know why so many guys complain about their wives/girlfriends/moms making them sit through The Proposal or whatever when these same guys probably make their wives/girlfriends/moms sit through movies like Red Dawn. Fair is fair, guys. Let's all agree that the majority of action movies and romantic comedies fall into the middle-of-the-bell-curve of predictable okay-ness, where watching them is tolerable, but probably won't make anyone's Top 10 list. Of course, there are outliers of exceptionalism on both ends of the spectrum that taint everyone's memory (ahem, One for the Money on the rom-com side, John Carter on the action side).

All of this ranting serves to explain why I'm commenting so little on the movie itself - because there's nothing really noteworthy about this movie that I couldn't say about every other action movie. It's fine. It has action, it has a plot that's predictable, but entertaining enough to sit all the way through without feeling like you've wasted your time, and it there are only a couple of moments where I needed to roll my eyes at the dialogue. 

Perhaps the only distinguishing feature of the movie was the presence of Giovanni Ribisi. I'm telling you, this guy is the next Paul Giamatti - I'm expecting him to start popping up everywhere. Why? Because he's so dang good. I remember him as the lovable but really, really dumb brother of Phoebe in Friends. I remember him as a totally believable person with mental retardation in The Other Sister. I remember him as the annoying younger brother that distracts you from the husky whispering of Nicholas Cage in Gone in Sixty Seconds (no easy feat, really). And now this - a greasy, shady drug dealer that's so vile you want to jump into the screen and punch him yourself. He's so good you don't even care that he's ugly. Hence, my reference to Paul Giamatti, who now plays romantic leads, despite the fact that he looks like he should be the grumpy neighbor or obscure relative on a thirty minute sitcom. 

Anyway, Giovanni Ribisi's appearance in the movie made me realize a couple of things:

1. Why is he in a movie with Kate Beckinsale? The only movie I've seen with her in the last six years besides the Underworld movies is Click. Seriously. Click. (Side note: Her official fan website is a .net, not even a .com. What other proof do you need that she can no longer count as an A-List actress?)
2. I more acutely understand why Marky Mark was pretty much the only person in The Fighter not nominated for an Oscar. It's not that he's bad, it's just then when surrounded by good actors, it's even more obvious that he's totally replaceable. I don't think the movie would have been any different with Jason Statham [or name your favorite action star here] in it.

Final word: It was like eating breakfast at Denny's - you know what to expect, it's totally fine, but don't pay more than $3 for it.

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