Review of Contract, The
Frank Carden (Morgan Freeman) is a black ops specialist who runs a small team who specialise in assassination. Whilst setting their latest contract in place, a traffic accident puts Carden in hospital in a small townin Washington State. The local Chief (Bill Smitrovich) discovers his identity and the cavalry in the form of US Marshals arrive with a car to transport him to Washington DC. Except they don`t, as Carden`s team (that is half made up of respected English actors with bad US accents) decide to spring him as he is the only one who can access the joint bank account with all their money in it. As is the way, the rescue doesn`t quite go as planned.
Meanwhile, retired cop turned teacher Ray (John Cusack) is having a hard time with his son Chris (Jamie Anderson), who has just been busted by the very same Chief mentioned above for smoking pot. Ray`s wife died of cancer two years previously, and Chris is having a hard time adjusting to the fact that his dad lied when he said everything would be alright. Ray copes by coaching little league badly. Chris copes by ditching the team and going half-Emo. Ray decides it would be fun to do something that Chris likes doing, which oddly enough is camping rather than sitting in the dark listening to My Chemical Romance.
And so in one of those weird coincidences that only ever happen in film, Ray and Chris happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time as Frank Carden drifts down the river attached to a dying US Marshal. In another heroic quirk, Ray inexplicably decides to do `the right thing` after being told matter of factly by the guy who shot a US Marshal that he`s `out of his depth`, and so the three go on a stroll through the woods (picking up some cannon fodder and the obligatory love interest along the way), whilst being chased by Carden`s team.
Just to add in some political intrigue, Miles (Alice Krige, looking as pale as when she was a Borg) works for the shadowy organisation who hires Carden but now decides he and everyone-else would be better off dead (hahaha, see what I did there?).
Hmmm, how long is this?
Nice scenic picture, most of the film is spent in lush forest. Oddly, the night scenes were filmed in daylight but this works quite well in that despite being tinted blue, you can see much more detail in the background. Nice work by Dante Spinotti.
Nice Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack. Most of the dialogue is through the front speakers, but there is some very nice sound design with some nifty audio effects coming from the surround speakers. There are subtitles too, yay.
Inside The Contract - EPK segment that is full of the usual lovey gushing respect that every important crew member has for each. Lasts for about 25 minutes and is at least 20 minutes too long.
I was a little intrigued to see a film starring Morgan Freeman and John Cusack, two of my favourite character actors together? Should be good, I thought. Er…no. It`s a chase movie, but in reverse. Think either Cliffhanger or Shoot To Kill, but it`s the good guys being chased rather than chasing and with minimal tension. That`s about it. It looks good and sounds good but is actually just movie of the week fodder. There`s a reason this went straight to DVD instead of a cinema release and it ain`t to provide Jeremy Beadle with another offer to buy a cheap DVD player with 30 films free either.
There are numerous problems with this film, the least of which is that it`s clearly aimed at the Murder She Wrote crowd but with a slightly bigger budget. There are plot holes galore as well as a couple of blatant product placements for the likes of Starbucks (amazing how that doesn`t get cold in the time it takes to bring it from town into the middle of a national park…). There is also some blatant misjudgements in the script regarding the actions of Carden`s team and a spectacular but frankly completely unbelievable helicopter crash whose sole redeeming feature is that it looks better than the car crash at the start of Along Came A Spider.
Overall it`s harmless enough and the two leads aren`t as bad as the script would have you make out although they`re clearly sleepwalking though this. It`s quite simple really; dad wants to bond with awkward son, meets bad guy and takes him prisoner because he has to do the right thing, meets girl who`s kind of hot, then bad guy, dad and son bond after a fashion, some people die and everyone else kind of lives happily ever after. The end.