Mark Wahlberg and Ben Foster star in “Contraband.”

courtesy of Universal Pictures

If you have just purchased tickets for that new action-thriller you’ve been dying to see, but as you watch, you are hit with periodic doses of déjà vu, the tickets you purchased may have just been for “Contraband”.

It’s not the worst action film I’ve ever seen. It’s just one of the least original.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Chris Farraday, a former professional smuggler who has since veered from the life of crime to raise a family with his wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale).

Failing to follow Chris’ lead, Kate’s brother, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), has continued a life of smuggling. When he botches a job, his drug dealer boss, Tim Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), hospitalizes him and continues to threaten his life.

As a result, Chris is forced to step in and make a return to the life he has worked to stray from. Briggs gives Chris two weeks to indemnify him for the value of the drugs that Andy failed to deliver.

Sound familiar? If you’ve seen “Gone in 60 Seconds” it does. In that film, Nicolas Cage plays a former car thief who returns to the job after his brother (ironically played by Giovanni Ribisi) fails to deliver 50 cars to his crime boss. Strike one.

Chris and his best friend, Sebastian (Ben Foster), organize the old crew to work on board of a cargo ship as a guise for the real job: to return a van full of counterfeit money from Panama to give Briggs as payment for the lost drugs. Together he and Sebastian contact them in preparation for the job.

In Ocean’s 11, George Clooney plays an ex-con returning to civilization, where he reassembles his crew for one more job. Each individual has unique specializations that come together in harmony to help pull off the job in the end. Strike two.

The crew runs into some complications when Chris realizes the first batch of counterfeit money will not get by Briggs’ judgment. As a result, Chris is left with no choice but to find another counterfeit bill maker.

With Briggs on to them, there is a breakdown in the crew’s communication, causing trouble for Chris with his new bill dealer. Still, Chris manages to narrowly escape the police and make away with the pallet full of money in his van, which they drive directly into the vessel’s trailer. The crew must avoid inspections in order to safely return the money and drugs they have acquired to Briggs.

At this point, Wahlberg himself was probably having flashbacks to his role in “The Italian Job”.

In that film, he leads a crew in stealing a safe full of gold. With a car chase that just barely avoids police capture, the crew loads their vehicles full of gold into a cargo trailer for transport. Strike three.

The film has some unique moments, but not nearly enough to label it as anything close to original.

If you’re looking for something fresh, this one isn’t for you. It certainly wasn’t good enough to put up with all the “technical difficulties” that the theater was having when I went.

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