TL;DR – A sadly predictable story with some good performances.
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film
Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress.
The Contractor Review –
If there is one group of people you can reliably know will be the bad guys, it is a private military outfit. I mean, take Angel Has Fallen, Black Adam, and Secret Headquarters, to name three of many examples. And when you look out at the world, it is not an entirely unearned reputation. When I heard that Chris Pine would be playing PMC in a film as the main lead, I had to give it a look.
So to set the scene, James Harper (Chris Pine) is a Green Beret in the US Army who has had to take illegal steroids to treat a keen injury. When he is discovered and discharged from the army, he has few choices left, and he needs to take a private military contractor job for a fellow veteran Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland). Rusty was recommended by a former squadmate Mike Hawkins (Ben Foster), because he is not like one of those other PMCs. James and Mike must head to Berlin for a black mission because it is not officially signed off on. But things fall apart when the Berlin Police show up.
The first thing the film did well is show that James is a generally good man and someone who cares for his family, Brianne (Gillian Jacobs) and Jack (Sander Thomas). But importantly, not in a holier-than-thou way which is the route that many military films go down. He has genuine baggage from his past and the life that he has constructed for himself. It also is at least trying to touch on factors affecting the military and veterans. For example, the epidemic of suicides that has gone on unnoticed by many in the general population. There is also some strong gallows humour that felt appropriate for the moment.
While it should not be a surprise, Chris Pine equips himself incredibly well in this physically demanding and morally constrained role. This is important because he is our point-of-view character, and the film rarely strays from his perspective. He also equips himself well in the action scenes with a physicality that makes you believe he could possibly take down Florian Munteanu. The action sequences are all staged well, but there were these moments where characters behave in ways that look good but feel disingenuous about how someone would act in that situation.
Alas, where it all starts to fall apart is in the narrative, which is one of the more predictable stories that I have seen. A covert black ops mission goes sideways, and suddenly, our hero is the target. We then hit all the predictable moments from then on with betrayal after betrayal. There were no surprises; there was nothing to latch onto once the film got on its narrative rails and trudges towards its predictable conclusion. Engaging characters at least make it watchable, and Chris Pine is playing the heck out of his role.
In the end, do we recommend The Contractor? Look, if nothing else, it is at least watchable, however, there are films that have done the same scenario [a lot of movies], and many of them are better. If you liked The Contractor, I would recommend to you The Eight Hundred.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Contractor
Directed by – Tarik Saleh
Written by – J.P. Davis
Music by – Alex Belcher
Cinematography by – Pierre Aïm
Edited by – Theis Schmidt
Production/Distribution Companies – Thunder Road Films, 30West, Paramount Pictures, STXfilms & Amazon Prime
Starring – Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gillian Jacobs, Sander Thomas, Eddie Marsan, J. D. Pardo, Kiefer Sutherland, Florian Munteanu, Nina Hoss, Amira Casar, Toby Dixon, Nicolas Noblitt & Fares Fares
Rating – Australia: MA15+