Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Let Mark Wahlberg smuggle 'Contraband' into your hearts

Universal Studios

Mark Wahlberg doesn't need a real TWIC card to smuggle ticket money out of your wallet.

You probably don’t need me to tell you to see "Contraband," America. Not if the box office is any indication. But I’m here to convince the unbelievers.

First, here’s what you need to know: NOTHING. Just let the plot wash over you. You have to, because from the beginning, somehow Barry Ackroyd’s images of New Orleans rinse by like water over TurtleWax. Which is to say: they could be anywhere.

Granted, I’m a former New Orleanian, so my love is specific: I’ve been moved to tears by a solo trumpet, by a softshell crab po-boy at my neighborhood hang, by the smell of the boil mingling with the night blooming jasmine, by the thumping high school marching band from my ears to my toes. But the sodium-lit refinery under the opening credits could be anywhere; the Crescent City Connection could connect to anytown. The music, credited to several people with the last name Broussard, is, sorry to say, nondescript, just something for Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale to sway to in the opening scenes. What really tells you we’re in New Orleans is beads.