By Ben Shearn | The Playlist November 16, 2011 at 9:21AM
When the first “Contraband” trailer hit in September, its conventional action pacing, strong doses of Mark Wahlberg machismo and virile use of the song "Red Nation" promised two possible outcomes: 1) A passable or even solid genre flick or 2) Yet another inhabitant in the forgettable Mark Wahlberg action-movie ghetto (“Four Brothers,” “Shooter,” “Max Payne”).
The newest International trailer, on the other hand, takes an almost entirely different angle. The first minute sets it up traditionally with a pulsing musical push. Already it features way more of the cast including Giovanni Ribisi (who seems to be channeling his inner Ratso Rizzo) and sustains a gloomier tone than the slam-bang of the American trailer. About midway, a theme of near-Vangelis-like emo-proportions attempts to frame "Contraband" not as straight action but as a gritty, emotional crime saga with the stylistic heft of “The Departed,” or perhaps even “Drive”. But that’s quite a stretch. The basic pounding Mark Wahlberg action/thriller core remains in tact.
Hints, however, at potential depth may not be totally unjustified. The director, Baltasar Kormákur, is a respected Icelandic filmmaker and actually played Wahlberg’s role in the film "Contraband" is based on, “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” – though he didn’t direct. Kormákur (whose films as director include “A Little Trip to Heaven” and “The Sea”) hasn’t exactly set international cinema on fire but he isn’t a complete non-entity either.
With a decent supporting cast in place -- Ribisi, Diego Luna, Ben Foster, Lukas Haas and J.K. Simmons -- we're hoping this can be a bit more than an average car-go-boom Mark Wahlbergh action vehicle.
"Contraband" hits on January 13, 2012.