Why is everyone in “Contraband” a smuggler, a screw-up, an idiot or all three? Better yet, why do these people from New Orleans talk with Boston accents?

“Contraband” is a thickheaded heist thriller with a laborious plot and a whole lot of contrived violence against women and children to make up for it.

Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is the best in the biz, and although he’s out of the game, he’s doing “one last job” (sigh) to pay back his kid brother-in-law’s debt after a drug run gone bad.

These guys are in love with the idea of smuggling. They call Chris the “Lennon and McCartney” of smugglers. They discuss their work with their wives, family and friends. They walk right into danger and plot an elaborate heist just because they can, and then they act surprised when things go horribly wrong.

I grew irritated at how many times Chris walked right up to his brother-in-law’s attacker, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), and then could think of nothing better than to run another job just to pay him his money.

Although, it was not as irritating as Briggs’s voice, an accent so thick and fake (“Say g’bye ta ya wiiife!”) his presence as a villain is laughable.

What’s more, Wahlberg’s tough, bad guy turned straight is getting weary. It’s a role he’s played so many times he better be getting a tax write-off.

Their dull performances do nothing to energize this ugly film shot in a cliché documentary style.

It’s often so slow and without vitality it has to concoct elaborate set pieces like a boat threatening to crash into a pier or a van dangling out of a high flying shipping container, none of which chalk up points for the film as intelligent.

Please let “Contraband” be the one last time Wahlberg does one last job.

2 stars


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