Chris Pine has been charged with some major cinematic responsibility over the years, channelling Jim Kirk and Jack Ryan. He did quite well with those, however, it didn’t give him an opportunity to create his own heroic character, instead looking to bring his own thing to something already established and coveted. So, The Contractor gives us something new and a character Pine can work at, from fresh, over the course of the film.
Upfront I do not believe this is to become a franchise, as per Jason Bourne. Instead, this is a light character piece that serves to entertain as a one off, without laying down lore to explore in subsequent outings. On the one hand, this is refreshing. On the other the film will likely fall into obscurity as, whilst it does nothing wrong, it just fails to have anything standout. Additionally, it didn’t set the box office on fire, so definitely no sequel.
This is entirely a mediocre effort with everything being fine. It’s certainly entertaining and keeps things plugging along, however, those who may be caught in a less than agreeable mood might be let down hoping for more of an impact.
A very typical story involves Pine as an ex-marine attempting to use his skills to make ends meet following a poor yet necessary decision that forced him out of the service. A job is taken from a shady Kiefer Sutherland sending Pine to extract a biological weapon and deliver it for a fee. Guess what? Things are not what they seem and Pine has to flee, protect the merchandise and do the right thing. Action comes thick and fast, all filmed with glossy style and exciting music. Fisticuffs are fast and frantic, chases are adrenaline packed and treachery comes exactly when expected.
Humans are human here. Pine’s wounds are debilitating and he needs to rest between altercations, whereas any other film the hero would be bounding onto the next engagement. Pine has to lay up for 24 hours, be it in a sewer, but needs must. This may have killed the pacing but instead the film gets away with it.
The supporting cast come and go and don’t spend too long on screen, each role feeling a little more like a cameo as Pine is on screen 99% of the time. I was chuffed to see Gillian Jacobs book ending the film, a fully fleshed out, supportive wife with all to lose given her husband’s decisions throughout the film. Ben Foster provides good support to Pine as his buddy, and Eddie Marsen’s scene adds some breathable, but uncomfortable, sanctuary to the action as Pine lays up and refuels. Lastly, Kiefer Sutherland pops up on a couple of occasions being untrustworthy, a perfect bit of casting.
It certainly has something to say about the tough regulations the marines are expected to meet throughout their career, off the battlefield. Raising questions about the age, wear and tear of body parts, service to the flag and meagre pay. The film acknowledges this but quickly looks to move into the popcorn territory and leave the drama to another movie. Something that feels fine as the film rolls on.
This is a film that won’t have a cult following, franchise or satisfy some missing element from your life. It will, however, engage you for the runtime and you will walk away fulfilled. In years to come you will struggle to remember if you have seen it. I would like to see this have a larger audience, it is the perfect Friday night couch and beer flick.
One observation of the last minute of the film, I believe the ending has been re-shot. Two shots of Pine’s wife and son are shown, however, Jacob’s face is obscured in both and in the second her hair and body differ from what we have seen prior. I have a feeling this ending was added at the last minute and an alternate ending exists, perhaps replaced following a test audience screening.
Poking around online, there is some unambitious artwork showing little imagination or variation. Artwork that will certainly help this film fall into obscurity. Right now, you can watch it on Amazon.