Time: 103 Minutes
Chris Pine as James Harper
Ben Foster as Mike Hawkins
Gillian Jacobs as Brianne Harper
Eddie Marsan as Virgil
J. D. Pardo as Eric
Kiefer Sutherland as Rusty Jennings
Florian Munteanu as Kauffman
Director: Tarik Saleh
Involuntarily discharged from the Army, a special forces sergeant lands a contract with a private underground military force. When his very first assignment goes awry, the elite soldier finds himself hunted and on the run, caught in a dangerous conspiracy and fighting to stay alive long enough to get home and uncover the true motives of those who betrayed him.
I saw The Contractor advertised on Amazon Prime, it looked to be a military thriller starring Chris Pine. Having watched it, it definitely felt like a streaming movie, but I was entertained nonetheless.
The script and story are fairly average; if you’ve seen a passable military action thriller (especially a streaming exclusive), then you’ve probably already seen The Contractor. The opening half hour is a bit slow, but it does well in setting up the lead character and showing why he decides to take on a particular job. It also has probably the only thing that distinguishes it from other movies of this genre, as it highlights how veterans are treated by the US military and attempts to tackle some issues about private military organisations. However, by the end it has forgotten about those and becomes another standard action movie. The story isn’t that interesting and is very predictable, not helped by the slogging pacing. The characters aren’t that developed and don’t have the emotional depth needed. I will say that I do appreciate how surprisingly solemn the tone was. Also, whereas a lot of these types of military movies put things on a large scale, The Contractor is comparatively small scale and mostly focuses on Chris Pine trying to survive. While I didn’t care for the story, it was okay enough that I was willing to pay attention to what was happening. The third act is fine and entertaining enough, but it felt like they ran out of ideas and needed to formulate some predictable climax. The ending itself also ends a bit too abruptly.
The cast are definitely the highlight of the movie. Chris Pine is very solid in the lead role, he carries much of the film. He certainly puts everything in this and helps to make his character feel more vulnerable and relatable. The rest of the cast deliver on their parts too. Ben Foster is quite good as well, even if he’s underutilised, and he and Pine (who co-starred in Hell or High Water) share convincing chemistry. Other actors like Gillian Jacobs, Eddie Marsan and Kiefer Sutherland also work in their screentime, but they are a little underserved. Gillian Jacobs is limited to just being ‘the wife character’, and Kiefer Sutherland’s villain (not much of a twist, it is easy to see coming) doesn’t get enough screentime to land an impression. Eddie Marsan’s scenes are some of the best scenes in the movie, but unfortunately he isn’t in the movie all that much.
Direction wise, The Contractor is competently made. The cinematography is very basic, but the locations are pretty good, especially in Berlin. The action is solid too, with the firefights and fighting scenes being handled well. The editing did take away from the action and they could’ve used less cuts, but I wouldn’t say its as bad as in some other action movies. These sequences aren’t anything you haven’t seen before, yet are nonetheless entertaining enough to watch. The score from Alex Belcher also works for the movie, albeit isn’t anything special.
Despite its potential, The Contractor is a generic and forgettable military action thriller, mostly let down by the average script. However, I did enjoy watching the movie; I liked the action and the cast are quite good, especially Chris Pine.