Ben Foster is moving on up the Hollywood ranks, joining Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale and possibly Giovanni Ribisi in Universal’s Contraband. The film is based on an award winning Icelandic movie without the same ring to its title. Reykjavík-Rotterdam rounded up five Edda Awards, which are the national film awards in Iceland, so naturally Wahlberg wanted to put his own spin on the smuggler’s tale.
While the Icelandic version may have won over hearts on the other side of the ocean, I’m a bit wary of the U.S. version. It’s another typical guy leaves the criminal world for normalcy, guy falls back into criminal world, but don’t worry it’s just one last job, sort of story. Icelandic or not, there’s nothing novel about that plot.
That said, it’s really up to the cast at that point. Though Wahlberg proved he’s more than just a pretty face with his performance in The Departed, he’s waltzed just adequately through a slew of films that followed it. And Beckinsale may be stunning, but I wouldn’t put her on a shortlist of phenomenal actresses. However, adding Foster and Ribisi into the mix could be the key. The former has been tapping into his dark side for years, creating a contrast between his doe-eyed appearance and his sometimes chilling characters while the latter has been as versatile as can be with his characters since hitting the scene in the mid 1990s. Foster will play partner in crime to Wahlberg’s retiree as he gets back into the smugglers’ game. (It’s a duo I can deal with, but Foster might want to start pumping iron to avoid looking like a bean pole next to Wahlberg’s hulking form.) Ribisi’s character info was not disclosed. I can gripe all I want, but for a story like this with names like Beckinsale and Wahlberg, it’ll surely be enough to draw a crowd.
There may be even more hope since the Icelandic actor who starred in the original film, Baltasar Kormakur, is lending his expertise to the project by taking on the directing role. It will be his first time directing an American film, so perhaps it will take on a style that American audiences haven’t yet enjoyed.