While the plot is reminiscent of early Hitchcock, the style and tone of the film is pure Powell. Rather than take itself seriously, Contraband’s thriller plot is constantly lightened up by tongue-in-cheek humor and romantic badinage (as well as a fair amount of what Ken Russell has called "bondage overtones"). Though it's not as developed visually as some of his later films, you can see the beginnings of certain stylistic tendencies in the film. Contraband contains several shots and sequences that appear in his later films, such as the eerie, fog enveloped men working on ships in the harbor, for instance, and the combination of a rapid close up of a clock face and the blaring of a train whistle from I Know Where I'm Going!.
Contraband seems to be overlooked by most viewers, even fans of Powell and Pressburger, as a pale imitation of a 1930s era Hitchcock thriller, but though it may be one of their lesser films, I thoroughly enjoyed its humor and felt it had all of the elements, whether fully developed or not, that one expects of an Archers film.
Senses of Cinema Review by Alexander C. Ives