7 Movies Like Contraband You Must See

Directed by Baltasar Kormakur, ‘Contraband’ is an action thriller movie where a retired smuggler by the name of Chris Farraday must foray into the world he left behind one last time as his family gets involved in a sticky situation with a drug lord. Chris has retired from the smuggling business to settle down with his family — a wife and a daughter.

However, it is his family itself that forces him into going back to his earlier dangerous job. Now, Chris must smuggle contraband money bought in Panama into the US, but the execution is anything but straightforward. If you enjoyed ‘Contraband,’ here are some other movies you might be interested in. You can watch most of these movies similar to ’Contraband’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

7. 2 Guns (2013)

‘2 Guns’ follows Robert “Bobby” Trench and Michael “Stig” Stigman as they first get involved in trouble with the US Border Patrol and then become a part of a complex story around the transfer of a large sum of money between the Mexican cartels and the CIA. The action-thriller is a natural follow-up to ‘Contraband’ as the two movies share the same director, Baltasar Kormakur, as well as star Mark Wahlberg, with a dose of Denzel Washington’s spectacular acting chops added to the fun. The movies share common themes such as smuggling and drugs with a healthy helping of action.

6. Haywire (2011)

‘Haywire’ is director Steven Soderbergh’s action thriller that follows Mallory Kane, a Black ops operative who is hellbent on seeking payback after being betrayed by her own superiors. Marking the debut of former professional MMA artist Gina Carano as the lead, the movie features high-octane action with a twisty story in tow. While ‘Haywire’ features combat scenes that are on a much smaller scale than ‘Contraband’, the films share a sense of unease as the protagonists fight against a force that is threatening to destroy their well-being and peace of mind.

5. Layer Cake (2004)

Director Matthew Vaughn’s ‘Layer Cake’ concerns a protagonist with no name (Daniel Craig), who is looking to get out of his current illegal business, in this case — the drug trade. Just as the cocaine distributor hopes to get out of the life of crime, he gets embroiled in a dangerous situation involving the kidnapping of a gangster’s daughter and retrieving a large shipment of ecstasy pills from a shady dealer.

A lithe thriller that explores the underbelly of British society, the movie also features high-stakes twists and turns at every turn. The 2004 movie also stays light on its feet as they are several moments where the proceeding gets comical. It seems inspired by the thrillers of Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels’ and ‘Snatch,’ which Vaughn produced. Interestingly, ‘Layer Cake’ was also influential in getting Craig the role of James Bond.

4. Heist (2001)

‘Heist’ is critically acclaimed screenwriter and playwright David Mamet’s commercially successful movie that features a highly engaging storyline supplied with the filmmaker’s usual witty dialogue. It centers upon Joe Moore, a career jewel thief who wants to escape the life of crime but is forced by fate to plan one last complex robbery. Chaos ensues.

What the complex narrative of the 2001 film shares in common with ‘Contraband’ is that the protagonist Joe Moore also wants to retire with his family and leave his thieving days behind. While the central element in ‘Contraband’ involves a load of money, in ‘Heist’ it takes the form of gold rods and there are twists aplenty, right up until the final shot of the movie.

3. Sicario (2015)

‘Sicario’ deals with the world of Mexican drug lords and intelligence agencies, exposing the rot that pervades not only the drug cartels but also the forces that are tasked with taking them down, leaving the protagonist Kate Macer unsure of her standing as part of the FBI. Director Denis Villeneuve crafted the movie with a measured pace, but its sudden bursts of violence are as explosive as anything in ‘Contraband’ and gorier to boot.

The 2015 film does contain elements in common with ‘Contraband’, but Villeneuve and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan are more interested in the impact of violence. It is notable that in ‘Sicario,’ in contrast to ‘Contraband,’ it is the members of the mafia that are shown to have families to protect. If you want a more introspective take on a thriller, you will enjoy ‘Sicario,’ which is followed by a 2018 sequel ‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado.’

2. Sexy Beast (2001)

In ‘Contraband,’ Chris is haunted by his past, and his demons come back to disturb his peace. In ‘Sexy Beast,’ Gary “Gal” Dove is also haunted by his past, and his peaceful life is disrupted when an old associate from his criminal days, Don Logan (a ferocious Ben Kingsley), turns up at his doorstep and implores him to assist in a bank heist.

Gary tries his utmost to turn away from the job, but circumstances force him to do so anyway. No matter what the heroes of movies like ‘Sexy Beast’ and ‘Contraband’ do to get away from their past, it still finds a way to influence their life. “One last job” is a common trope among movies of this kind and ‘Sexy Beast’ is a prime example of it.

1. The Departed (2006)

The movie that finally earned Martin Scorsese an Oscar for Best Director, ‘The Departed’ is a taut and engaging thriller that’s full of crosses, double-crosses, and shifting loyalties. The film chronicles the lives of South Boston cop Billy Costigan and a criminal named Colin Sullivan who embark on a mission to infiltrate the mob and the police, respectively. However, their lives turn upside down when each of the parties sets out to sniff out the respective mole.

Like ‘Contraband,’ ‘The Departed’ was also remade from a foreign movie — the Hong Kong thriller ‘Infernal Affairs’ (2002), but Scorsese has made a movie that is wholly rooted in the Boston milieu the story is set in. The tension is maintained throughout, and the movie constantly pulls the rug from underneath the audience’s feet. If you have never seen it before, a classic awaits!

Read More: Where Was Contraband (2012) Filmed?