What an appropriate film to be showing in the tobacco-smuggling hot-spot of Gibraltar.

We’ve been fans of Mark Wahlberg since getting Shooter on DVD a few years ago.

Seeing Contraband advertised recently and featuring Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale (who I always thought was brilliant in Shooting Fish – and – why doesn’t she look any older?) was a good start.

Ringing up the cinema, I discovered it was not the prohibitive £20 we had thought, but a fiver each.

Supper was prepared in advance, dog was walked, and out we went for an evening’s heady entertainment.

Main Street on Sunday evening

We hadn’t been to the cinema before so we joined the popcorn queue for our tickets.

I wandered off to ask an usher where to buy tickets and partner asked the same of the woman in front of him in the popcorn queue. We arrived at the ticket place together and a woman magically appeared to sell us our tickets (she hadn’t been there before which was why we joined the popcorn queue, it was the only place selling anything).

Next I asked the usher where we could buy a drink while we waited. I’m thinking dress circle in the theatre here not popcorn and coke at the cinema. Downstairs in the bar …. I decided I wasn’t that interested in a drink.

We entered the virtually empty cinema and sat at the front to stretch our legs. Something started happening on the extremely large screen and we realised we were a little too near so promptly ran to the back. Leg room made no difference as there was plenty. I followed the example of the other two occupants of the cinema and draped my legs over the chair in front.

Plot: complicated, but I’m the sort of person who finds the Sound of Music complicated and usually spend most of the film asking whoever is next to me what is happening.

This was so complicated that I figured if I did that neither of us would get what was happening, and I could read about it later on the tinties. Which is what I did and so can you if you are interested enough. (Link above)

It’s a smuggling heist thing with the usual family threats. Beckinsale played the stereotypical victimised woman who received more than her fair share of threats and violence which was something of a waste of a good actress.

Wahlberg was pretty much his tough hard-nosed self. After watching this we both thought he would have made a much better Jason Bourne than Matt Damon.

Verdict: eminently watchable, some slightly too clever camera angles and panning, but the Panama Canal was spectacular. The action was suitably convincing, characters were pretty good, so who cares about a plot?

One of those clever film shot things

It didn’t get a particularly good Rotten Tomatoes review, but neither did Shooter. Some of the critics slagged it off, so that made it worth a look anyway.

The cinema was superb, and with the exception of the other couple in there, it was like having our own private viewing for a tenner.

busy, busy, busy – not

And it’s five or ten minutes walk away from home. It’s in a converted military bastion that is now a leisure centre, and more pix of that to come on a later post.

Amazing conversion

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But to consider the real contraband for a moment. The Guardia Civil is still stopping every moped under the sun while the car smugglers continue.

How do we know? Well apart from the black plastic bags that helpfully litter the place because the smugglers are too idle to put them in bins (fortunately as we pick them up for free to pick up after the dog), we see them doing it. (The bags had dropped off at one point, but they have increased again.)

We walked around the corner to approach our block the other day and there was a worky sorting out his tools. Or so I thought. Partner was a bit more observant and noticed he was stashing his fags away in the boot, the tools were a neat disguise. Very clever. Or maybe he was a smuggling worky?

How about these cases? extracted from Govt press releases.

A 31 year old Spanish national was arrested by HM Customs after Customs Officers searched a Spanish registered vehicle under her control in a car park near Catalan Bay Road; 15,000 cigarettes (75 cartons) were found in the car.

Two Spanish nationals, both resident in La Linea, were arrested after being found in possession of commercial quantities of cigarettes in the area of Eastern Beach. 4,000 cigarettes (20 cartons) and two Spanish registered motorcycles were seized by HM Customs during the incident.

In a joint anti-smuggling operation executed by the Gibraltar Defence Police and HM Customs, 24 year old Victor Manuel FERNANDEZ Ruano was arrested in the area of Western Beach. He was seen approaching the frontier fence carrying a number of packages. On being challenged, he attempted to escape by entering the sea and swimming to Spain. He was apprehended and subsequently charged with unlawful exportation of goods, obstructing a Customs Officer and with Tobacco Act offences. 5,400 cigarettes (27 cartons) were seized in the operation. Fernandez was remanded in custody overnight and sentenced to fines totalling £2,400.

The limit is one carton per person, just to be clear.

Picky journalism/press officer quote of the day – you shouldn’t start sentences with numbers, unless they are in writing.


45 comments on “Contraband

  1. Ok, so excuse me for sounding completely stupid but why is there a cig smuggling racket going on in Gibraltar? Price related I would guess? Are you able to purchase cigarettes over the counter?


    • I was a bit sceptical when it was being converted, but it’s getting used, they haven’t done a bad job with it, and yes! the cinema was pretty reasonable even by my tight standards.

      I took too many other photos of KB to put on this post. It really is stunning isn’t it? I suspect we may frequent the empty Sunday evening cinema again. Actually, everyone was clearly watching Pirates (?) because that was sold out.


      • The cinema is normally busy all weekend. So you got really lucky! The trick we have found is to avoid opening night / weekend and go a week later. It does mean that some clown will try and ruin the twist in a film but I can’t stand being crammed into places! Although KB does have brilliant AC so it never gets stuffy in the screens!


  2. Will keep an eye out for Contraband (the film) via Quickflix. We also love the cinema but hate the crowds. We had one memorable event on the Mid North Coast were we had the cinema to ourselves but it was simply fortuitous, the G.O. didn’t arrange it specially as a romantic gesture…


    • Hehe!! Love the idea of GO arranging an empty cinema for you both!

      Contraband is OK if you like that sort of film. Or the actors in it. Have to be honest, Wahlberg was the main lure, followed by the title.


  3. If I had a cinema that nice near me I might go to the movies more often..ours are crowded, noisy and downright tacky..
    Smugglers you say? we have alot of Cocaine smugglers from Cuba that go through Miami, Florida (4 hrs south of me)…


      • California has a big problem with in-coming swimming smugglers(human cargo and other stuff)…here the water is too muddy and much too shallow…and hard to hide and look invisible on the shore..but expensive fishing boats / jet skies – both a real target for pirates. (Swimming madly or madly swimming off)


        • In my part of Spain and down here too we have the same issue with people smuggling :( on rafts. There are so many types of smuggling, guess it is the same in similar types of the world qv FPP’s comment re Flo-ri-duh. (Sorry an old dog blog way of pronunciation that I haven’t lost).

          Not sure we have pirates yet, but perhaps they will be here soon. The Black Pig beckons. I guess you don’t know it.


  4. will comment soon, just wanted to say thank you for your nice comments on mine. It has been a mixed bag of emotions just lately in the Letty Household, and life has been so hectic too, but I so appreciate your interest! Will read and comment on this soonest. J x


  5. Not a great film buff, and even less of a cinema goer, I think the last time I actually made the effort to go to the cinema was to see Babe.
    The converted bastion looks like quite a stunning place for a cinema, and I do like the look of all the vacant seat, crammed cinemas is one reason I hate going.
    The tale of the smuggler swimming with his cigarettes, made me chuckle, I can just see him standing there soaked to the skin with soggy cigs. lol


    • I used to quite like some films. I’d read the reviews in the nationals and if something took my fancy, we’d make the effort to go. This is the first time we have been since leaving the UK, and before we left it had been years since we had been, so this was a big event for us :D

      I thought the rows of empty seats looked so cool! The bastion is great, but that’s why I thought the rest of my photos merited a separate post. Probably tomorrow. Or maybe today? Who knows?

      Not sure if his cigs got soggy or just him! quite an exciting story I think, trying to flee by sea and getting nicked, presumably hauled out of the water from police in a boat? Such a peaceful tranquil place I live in.


    • LOL!! I haven’t managed that, nor did I know he was in it. But I do agree. The reason we went to watch Contraband was because he was in it. Not seen either of the PofA films.

      Thinking about going to watch the remake of Total Recall this weekend, with Colin Farrell. Might be worth a watch.


      • MW is in the first of the new Apes, but not the second. Therefore, it has not been a high priority. Let me know how Total Recall works out, if you see it.


        • If we go it will be this evening, but it really depends on what time we have our siesta – and what time we wake up – the film is on at 6.30pm as I recall. If we go, I’ll write it up anyway, so I’ll drop a note on yours if that happens. (A lot of ‘ifs’ here :D)


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