• Review Date: January 13, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Lots of suspense, violence, language in smuggling thriller.
  • Review Date: January 13, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 110 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's some teamwork, with characters needing to solve a dangerous problem quickly, but they use illegal and immoral means to do so. The main characters generally show empathy, but only to people already in their little circle; others get the opposite treatment.

Positive role models

The hero is a trustworthy, reliable family man. But he resorts to illegal activities, violence, and trickery in a pinch. He also swears nonstop.


The worst violence happens when a vicious gangster threatens the main character's wife and kids while he's away. The gangster beats up the wife, and a henchman pulls a gun on the kids (who are about 8 or 10). Later, the wife is nearly sexually assaulted and then beaten further; she's knocked into unconsciousness. Also one major scene of shooting and killing, with lots of blood and several dead bodies, plus some hand-to-hand fighting and a few car crashes.


A loving married couple kisses and says "I love you." Some brief innuendo.


Almost constant swearing, with either "f--k" or "s--t" said literally every couple of minutes. Other, less frequently heard words include "p---y," "ass,""c--t," "a--hole," "hell," "goddamn," and "bitch."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character refuses to smuggle drugs, but the bad guys make their living smuggling cocaine. Viewers see big sealed bags of it, and characters occasionally snort some. A secondary character is a recovering alcoholic. He attends an AA meeting but falls off the wagon and drinks whisky in a bar. Characters are also seen drinking beer at a wedding, and minor characters are seen smoking cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Contraband is an intense action thriller about a former smuggler (played by Mark Wahlberg) who's forced to go back into business to protect his family. Expect distressing violence: The bad guys beat up and nearly sexually assault the main character's wife, as well as point guns at his tween kids. There's also fighting, shooting, killing, and blood. Language is another major issue, with characters saying either "f--k" or "s--t" literally every couple of minutes. The bad guys smuggle cocaine, and viewers see huge bricks of it; characters are also seen snorting some. A secondary character is a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In New Orleans, Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) is a brilliant former smuggler who's gone straight for the sake of his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons. But when his wife's younger brother (Caleb Landry Jones) gets in trouble with a local thug (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris must go back into business with his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster). Their plan is to ship out to Panama, pick up a huge, truck-sized pile of counterfeit bills -- Chris refuses to smuggle drugs -- and bring it back. Unfortunately absolutely everything goes wrong, from bad bills to a temperamental drug lord (Diego Luna) and a betrayal.

Is it any good?


CONTRABAND's plot (remade from a 2008 Icelandic thriller) is pretty creaky, but Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur's execution is scrappy and energetic. The movie begins at ground level, with an authentically urban, working-class feel around Chris; it's similar in this regard to the atmosphere of The Fighter. Using this as a basis, Kormakur very simply keeps raising the stakes.

The story grows more and more absurd, but each new wrinkle generates more suspense. Kormakur isn't particularly good at subtle things (like revealing a secret twist or creating a moment of discovery), and the action could have been cleaner and sharper, but most of the movie is based around big events, and they're very satisfying. It's more about guts than brains, along with generating supreme tension. The strong cast also includes J.K. Simmons as a cranky ship's captain and Lukas Haas as a nervous helper.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Contraband's violence. Is it suspenseful or gory? Is it necessary to the story?

  • The characters use questionable methods to accomplish their goals. What message does that send to viewers? Do the ends ever justify the means?

  • At the end of the movie, the main characters are left with the promise of great -- albeit ill-gotten -- riches. Do you think they'll find happiness?


Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 13, 2012
DVD release date:April 24, 2012
Cast:Ben Foster, Kate Beckinsale, Mark Wahlberg
Director:Baltasar Kormakur
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, pervasive language and brief drug use

This review of Contraband was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bylittlemonster98 January 14, 2012

Not that inappropriate.....

Common sense overrated this one...not to inappropriate...Just some intense violence and drugs. OK movie
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byKlyons14 January 20, 2012

Thriller keeps you grabbing on to the edge of your seat... and your ears

Mark Wahlberg stars in this new action packed, nail biting film. As far as entertaining goes, this movies got it all. It really just shocks you scares you, makes you go "wow", and makes you cringe. If your only concern is quality then read no further, on the other hand, content differs. As far as violence is concerned, it is not frequent but can get extreme, there is a gun shot scene where you can see bullets penetrate skin (blood is shown), you can see a woman accidentally beaten, (head is cracked against against a counter)and blood is shown after, and there are many combat scenes that can get intense and some points get borderline sexually violent, nothing inappropriate is shown but can send a uneasy message that one woman could be raped. As far as drugs, a good portion of the film is about whether to or to not smuggle drugs and how to get a man his drugs. This felt pretty controversial to me. One important moral my parents have instilled in me is to always steer away from drugs, so moral of this movie, drugs only leads to trouble. And finally, the profanity in this film was down right desensitizing. Barley on sentence went by without hearing f**k. It's nothing any middle schooler has ever herd, but the frequency is so common, you begin to think its no big deal. So this movie may be a tough decision, overall older teens and up.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written bywacfactor January 17, 2012


Took my 15 y.o. son and his friend, also 15. We knew what we were in for and enjoyed it - when you're going to see a Mark Wahlberg movie, you know you are going to get intensity. It was violent at times, but not gruesome, and it was in line with what you'd expect from drug world thugs. It's a movie about the seedy underworld of the drug trade - not pretty stuff but I felt like the dirtiness of that lifestyle was pretty realistically portrayed. Although Wahlberg's character is by no means a role model, I personally love the badass-ness he brought to the role, all with a fight-to-the-death devotion for his family. Enjoyed it and so did the boys.


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