This weekend, an actor named Mark Wahlberg ("Rock Star") unleashes his next calculated move on the American public, "Contraband." As a service, we answer every question that you could possibly have about Wahlberg's latest action-thriller.
Q: Does "Contraband" begin with some necessary if obvious exposition?
A: Yes. At a wedding, Chris Farraday (Wahlberg), a former smuggler, reminds his friend Sebastian Abney (Ben Foster) that Sebastian was the best man at Chris' wedding. The audience is now aware that Chris and Sebastian are friends.
Q: When "Contraband" begins, is Chris Farraday still a smuggler?
A: No. Chris and Sebastian are described as the Lennon and McCartney of smuggling. But now Chris has, as the kids from 1975 say, "gone legit."
Q: What does Chris now do in exchange for compensation?
A: Chris Farraday operates a modest home security company.
Q: So who is John Lennon and who is Paul McCartney?
A: Come on, that's obvious: Since Farraday went mainstream, he is obviously Paul McCartney. In the smuggling world, opening a home security company is no different than being a former Beatle who releases "C-Moon" as a single.
Q: Would Paul McCartney have released a song called "Bout Time I Funk You"?
A: This is irrelevant. The character of Chris Farraday has nothing to do with Mark Wahlberg's hip-hop past.
Q: How many references to "The Birdcage" are there in "Contraband"?
Q: Since the poster for "Contraband" features a photo of Mark Wahlberg smuggling money, I feel entitled to ask: What prompts Chris to return to smuggling?
A: Andy, whose sister is married to Chris, is a smuggler, too. A very bad one, it seems. After a raid, Andy dumps a lot of drugs into the ocean. Unfortunately, because of this incident, Andy now owes a lot of money to one of the biggest, baddest, most ruthless drug bosses in the area, Tim Briggs.
Q: Ooooh! Who plays Tim Briggs? I can only assume it's someone very frightening like Javier Bardem. Or maybe Danny Trejo?
A: Tim Briggs is played by Giovanni Ribisi.
A: If it helps, Ribisi has a few tattoos, which makes him slightly more imposing. I think.
Q: And what does any of this have to do with Chris Farraday?
A: Because, as Tim Briggs overdramatically explains to Chris, if Andy doesn't pay the value of the drugs, not only will Andy be killed, but then the debt is now on the head of Andy's family, which means Chris and his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale).
Q: Why would Chris be intimidated by Tim Briggs? I mean, Tim Briggs is played by Giovanni Ribisi.
A: This is weird. Not only is Chris clearly not intimidated by Tim Briggs, Chris then pummels Tim to within an inch of his life. But, yep, he still agrees to get Tim the money.
Q: By giving Andy a job at Chris' home security company? I mean, sure, it may take some time to work off that debt, but not only will Andy learn the value of a hard day's work, he'll learn some technical knowledge of his own. Who knows, maybe Andy can open up a business of his own some day? I am going to assume that this is not what happens.
A: No, Chris agrees to make one last smuggling run. (By now, the whole "one last time" angle has become so cliché that it's not even cliché any longer. It's just part of our lives.)
Q: Is Chris going to smuggle drugs?
A: Oh, heaven forbid, no. You see, although Chris is a smuggler, he still has a heart of gold. And drugs are bad. Even though Sebastian does everything in his power to persuade Chris to smuggle drugs, Chris, instead, agrees to smuggle some counterfeit money from Panama.
Q: How does Chris plan on doing this?
A: Remember that scene in the trailer where Chris Farraday is asked if he's ever been convicted of espionage or treason? And Chris responds, "Together?" This is Farraday's interview for a job on a cargo ship.
Q: What is the stupidest scene in "Contraband"?
A: Chris goes through this entire rigmarole of creating a fake identity for that interview, then, the second he steps foot on the cargo ship, the captain of the ship (J.K. Simmons) immediately recognizes Farraday. And the captain is well aware of what Farraday does for a living. But the captain doesn't kick Farraday off of the ship, even though Farraday's ID gives a name other than "Chris Farraday."
Q: Does Chris Farraday face any consequences from the captain?
A: The Captain tells Chris, "I have my eye on you," and is also demoted to a janitorial position -- which, of course, gives Farraday the opportunity to freely wander around the entire ship.
Q: So the Captain is secretly in on this whole smuggling operation?
A: You would really think that, right?
Q: What name did you not expect to play a major role in "Contraband"?
A: Jackson Pollock
Q: What's the worst part about "Contraband"?
A: Look, with a movie like this, it would be possible to overlook the plot inconsistencies if the movie were entertaining. The worst part about "Contraband" is that it's boring.
Q: What is the best thing about "Contraband"?
A: The title of the movie will make it easy for authorities to spot bootleg copies on New York City subways.
Q: Should I see "Contraband"?
A: If you're worried about losing your status of "having seen every movie about smuggling" or "having seen every Lukas Haas movie," then yes.
Q: Does the ending to "Contraband" make sense?
A: It does until you give it more than a solid ten seconds of thought.
Q: If you're going to blurbed in this weekend's commercials for "Contraband," what quote do you think will be used?
A: "A solid ten!" Mike Ryan, Moviefone
Q: Who is the better smuggler, Chris Farraday or Han Solo?
A: Since I've never actually seen Han Solo successfully smuggle anything, as opposed to Chris Farraday's numerous triumphs ... I'm still going to go with Han Solo.
Q: How does that make sense?
A: It makes sense when you factor in the spite I feel for having sat through "Contraband."
Mike Ryan is the senior writer for Moviefone. He has written for Wired Magazine, VanityFair.com, GQ.com, New York Magazine and Movieline. He likes Star Wars a lot. You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter