U.S. Special Forces sergeant James Harper (Chris Pine) is discharged from duty by his commanding officers and cut off from his pension after being caught taking drugs for a knee injury that hadn’t been prescribed. His dismissal leaves him in a financial hole and no way to support his wife Brianne (Gillian Jacobs) and son Jack (Sander Thomas). James’ fellow Special Forces buddy Mike (Ben Foster) dangles the carrot of private contracting under his nose and introduces him to Rusty (Kiefer Sutherland), a man prepared to pay a lot of money in return for James carrying out some dodgy work for him. Unaware of what he’s getting into, James winds up fighting for his life when his mission goes horribly wrong.
If the above description sounds like the plot of a movie/TV show you’ve already seen, it’s because it’s a generic hybrid of the Special Forces movies that film-makers love making so much. If you’ve seen any of the ‘Bourne’ films or watched the hit ‘Jack Ryan’ TV series, then you’ve seen this plot play out and likely much better. It’s not that ‘The Contractor’ is unwatchable – it’s actually enjoyable in parts – it’s more than it ticks every vague plot point you can think of for this kind of movie and doesn’t leave much of a lasting impression.
James meanders into an obviously dodgy world with his blinkers on, presumably seduced by the money he can make, and the alarm bells take far too long to go off. The film also spends way too much time getting to the action so a slow build that takes more than half the film may have you already reaching for the remote before the good stuff kicks in. ‘The Contractor’ hits its stride when it leans into the action and suffers when it tries to deliver an under-developed and bland story.
Chris Pine deserves better than the material here, as does the entire cast to be honest. As James, Pine is required to be so bland that his performance doesn’t evoke anything from the viewer at all. He’s a good actor who seems to be eternally served by material that he’s too good for but having chosen not to go down the superhero route (although he’s flirted close to it), Pine seems to be being punished in some way. Kiefer Sutherland at least has some fun hamming up his role, even if he is playing a meaner version of Jack Bauer.
‘The Contractor’ is the kind of film you can put on in the background while you do pretty much anything else. The plot is all over the place so you don’t need to worry about following it and the end is so underwhelming you may wish you never bothered watching it in the first place. I firmly believe that bad movies do happen to good actors, and this is certainly the case of ‘The Contractor’ for Chris Pine. Let’s hope those ‘Star Trek 4’ rumours are true.
Cast: Chris Pine, Gillian Jacobs, Ben Foster, Kiefer Sutherland Director: Tarik Saleh Writer: J.P. Davis Certificate: 15 Duration: 103 mins Released by: Prime Video Release date: 6th May 2022