Helmed by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur, ‘Contraband’ is an adrenaline-filled action thriller movie. Based on the 2008 Icelandic film ‘Reykjavik-Rotterdam,’ the narrative plunges the audiences into the deep smuggling networks of the world. Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) hopes he has escaped the vocation of smuggling to rear his family lawfully, but that does not happen. He learns that Andy, his wife Kate’s brother, was smuggling drugs through the Mississippi River but had to get rid of the shipment following a surprise inspection by the Customs.
To save Andy from his furious bosses, Chris returns to the smuggling business, jeopardizing his peaceful life; with double-crosses and indecision, the situation drastically turns. The journey takes the viewers to the diverse landscapes of New Orleans and Panama, and you must be curious whether the crew visited these places. Let’s do a little investigation, shall we?
Contraband Filming Locations
‘Contraband’ was filmed in Louisiana and Panama, especially across New Orleans and Panama City. Principal photography commenced on January 13, 2011, wrapping up shortly after that. Barry Ackroyd, the cinematographer of ‘The Hurt Locker‘ and ‘United 93,’ came on board as the director of photography. Meanwhile, Tony Fanning, the art director of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ and ‘Spider-Man,’ joined the crew as the production designer.
Panama features dramatic landscapes with high cliffs and coastal stretches to lure productions into the country. Furthermore, the Panama Film Incentive program offers a 25 percent cash rebate for eligible production expenditure, making for a highly lucrative deal. Let us now take you to the specific locations where the movie was shot.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A bulk of sequences were taped in New Orleans, as the dwelling of Chris and Kate is in the city per the film. Located near the Gulf of Mexico on the Mississippi River, New Orleans is famous for its round-the-clock nightlife, vibrant music scene, and magical allure. Moreover, after its tryst with Hurricane Ida, the city has primarily reinvented itself and now harbors a film industry that clocks nearly a billion dollars.
The screenplay was rewritten mainly to accommodate New Orleans as the backdrop, and the city becomes a pivotal character in the movie. The director sought to explore a grittier side of the city by capturing landmarks like Old Point Bar at 545 Patterson Road, the Westbank area, and the Port of New Orleans. Additional sequences were likely recorded at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center at 100 Dolhonde Street in Gretna, a city in the New Orleans–Metairie–Kenner metropolitan statistical area.
The opening shots portray a glistening Crescent City skyline, whereas the rest of the movie opts for a dark and dingy palette. We visit shady container yards and out-of-order warehouses, and the camera often dwells in the shadows. Additionally, the crew visited the Mississippi River on one occasion. Several “Panama” sequences were also lensed in the city as the crew built a set from scratch.
Panama City, Panama
While a production team was shooting scenes in New Orleans, second unit filming went underway in Panama City. Several exterior locations, including a high-speed car chase sequence, were filmed in the capital of Panama. The said scene was taped under the Interstate 10 flyover ramps along Poydras Street.
Another sequence in the film involves a boat being blown up, and it was captured at the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, a tourist attraction in the city. A few heated scenes were also lensed in the impoverished Panama City neighborhood of El Chorillo.
Read More: Is Contraband Based On A True Story?