'Contraband' carries mixed message

The Mark Wahlberg action thriller Contraband is absurd but diverting.

It's the tale of retired smuggler Chris Farraday (Wahlberg), who's pulled back into the game just when he thinks he's out. (You know how that is; see The Godfather Part III.)

He's comfortably living a life of domestic bliss with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and their two young sons when his brother-in-law (Caleb Landry Jones) botches a drug deal for a cutthroat boss (Giovanni Ribisi), losing a lot of money along the way. The only way Chris can save his in-law and protect his wife and kids is to settle the debt and do one last job.

Contraband is based on Reykjavik-Rotterdam, a 2008 Icelandic film directed by Oskar Jonasson that starred and was produced by Baltasar Kormakur, who directs this version.

What we get is a lot of information about tricks of the smuggling trade (just in case the need should arise), some gritty shots of the film's principal locales — the ports of New Orleans and Panama City, Fla. — and a decent amount of gunplay and car chases.

Diego Luna drops in as a brutal out-of-his-mind Panamanian drug lord, and there's an amusing gag about a Jackson Pollack painting.

Interestingly, though, all the time that Chris is being forced into his old life of crime, you get the feeling he really digs it. Maybe that's the lesson of Contraband: It's best to work at what you like.

Contraband retails for $29.98 or $34.98 Blu-ray.