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The Contractor – Chris Pine is a Doomed Mercenary in this Emotional Military Thriller

MOVIE REVIEW – Chris Pine, Ben Foster and 24’s Kiefer Sutherland also star in the military thriller The Contractor, in which Pine’s forced-entry character becomes a mercenary in the team of “Rusty”, played by Sutherland. The film, which is quite realistic, raises some interesting questions and provides a sufficiently exciting diversion with its routine stars.

 

 

Even if perhaps few of our readers can identify with the career backstory of Special Forces Sergeant James Harper, played by Pine, much resonates with his painful story and the unfair cards he is dealt, and Pine’s performance proves once again that he is much more than a handsome Hollywood movie star as he carries the heavy weight of his character’s past on the screen. Although the ending and some of the action sequences fall a little short of the high standards set by the rest of the film, James Harper’s journey remains largely impressive.

 

theGeek The Contractor Chris Pine Kiefer Sutherland Ben Foster 3

 

A well-constructed beginning

 

It’s refreshing that instead of jumping straight into the action and explosions, as some military thrillers tend to do, he spends nearly an hour setting the scene before a single bullet is fired. This time is spent introducing us to Pine’s James, his wife Brianne (Gillian Jacobs) and their son Jack (Sander Thomas), and a loving family whose happy lifestyle is threatened by mounting debts and a rather stomach-churning demobilisation by military command, which James wanted no part of. But fans of action thrillers need not worry, as there is plenty of them in short order in The Contractor, but the time spent at the beginning sets up the story and the stakes and gives much greater significance to what happens next.

Even the scenes that could play out as casual pillow talk show what is at stake, such as when Brianne and James discuss the death of a friend who also served in the army. This is not presented as a shocking revelation but as a regular part of their lives, and this eerily ordinary conversation makes it all the more unsettling.

Moments like these, as well as shots of James and Jack playing in the back garden or Brianne filming them in the pool, paint a picture of a family that desires nothing more than so many do: a reasonably universal desire: to live a life free of struggle and tragedy. This makes The Mercenary much more relatable than if there had been 103 minutes of gunfire in the film, with much less emotional stakes.

 

theGeek The Contractor Chris Pine Kiefer Sutherland Ben Foster 5

 

Veteran soldiers, veteran actors

 

The casting aids this ambition, and Pine was more than a worthy choice for the lead role. Pine weights a lifetime of pain on his shoulders – both mentally and physically, mainly due to a severe knee injury and the aftermath of a toxic relationship with his father, a former soldier but by no means a ‘role model’. Previously in sci-fi, superhero movies and spy thrillers (most recently in All the Old Knives), the veteran actor admirably portrays Harper’s difficult fate. Pine also clearly excels in the action scenes, believably portraying a special forces soldier who has dedicated his life to perfecting his lethal skills.

Ben Foster, who plays James’ best friend and former superior, is also a standout in The Contractor. The acting chemistry between them, seen in previous collaborations such as The Lords of the Prairie, is on full display here, with both brotherly and comradely trust between the two characters.

But let’s not forget Kiefer Sutherland, familiar from 24, as Rusty, the veteran leader of a team that carries out a secret, unofficial missions to protect national security – a task that would not be unfamiliar to Sutherland’s legendary character Jack Bauer. He also fits the role of the gruff, somewhat mysterious, but highly dedicated veteran of his country. Still, this character will, unfortunately, end up being one of the film’s weak points. It is far from the fault of Sutherland, who is also a blood pro: Rusty is not given enough screen time to become more than two-dimensional, he is a thin element in an otherwise layered story, and the same can be said of the ending.

 

 

Shame about the ruined ending

 

It’s hard to talk about it without going too deep into spoilers, but by the end of the credits, I was left with a conflicted feeling, and not in the best way. The ending is too simple and convoluted. I was expecting a much more complex and cathartic conclusion. Instead, the final moments simply didn’t fit with the rest of the film; I didn’t feel they were really earned. It happened too quickly and didn’t leave much imagination.

Apart from all that, the journey to this very sobering conclusion is thrilling, full of mostly solid action, shocking twists and turns, and thought-provoking questions. The Contractor also skilfully tackles the very controversial issues of military existence, which is particularly interesting today, when a brutal war is taking place just one country’s border away.

The Contractor is a good military action thriller, even if not the most professional or spectacular in the genre, with a clashing ending, but its more complex story and depiction of human relationships and being a veteran make it worth watching. Chris Pine is superb as a man who must make difficult choices after being let down by the country he served faithfully and heroically.

-BadSector-

MOVIE REVIEW - Chris Pine, Ben Foster and 24's Kiefer Sutherland also star in the military thriller The Contractor, in which Pine's forced-entry character becomes a mercenary in the team of "Rusty", played by Sutherland. The film, which is quite realistic, raises some interesting questions and provides a sufficiently exciting diversion with its routine stars.     Even if perhaps few of our readers can identify with the career backstory of Special Forces Sergeant James Harper, played by Pine, much resonates with his painful story and the unfair cards he is dealt, and Pine's performance proves once again that he…
The Contractor is a good military action thriller, even if not the most professional or spectacular in the genre, with a clashing ending, but its more complex story and depiction of human relationships and being a veteran make it worth watching. Chris Pine is superb as a man who must make difficult choices after being let down by the country he served faithfully and heroically.

The Contractor

Direction - 6.5
Actors - 8.2
Story - 7.2
Visuels/Action - 6.2
Ambience - 7.2

7.1

GOOD

The Contractor is a good military action thriller, even if not the most professional or spectacular in the genre, with a clashing ending, but its more complex story and depiction of human relationships and being a veteran make it worth watching. Chris Pine is superb as a man who must make difficult choices after being let down by the country he served faithfully and heroically.

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