Directed by: Tarik Saleh
Premise: A recent discharged soldier (Chris Pine) takes a job with a private military contractor. While in the field he discovers that the mission is not what it appears.
What Works: The first third of The Contractor is a promising home front drama. Chris Pine plays an elite soldier who illegally used medications to stay fit for active service and was consequently discharged from the military without pay or benefits. Pine’s character is a dedicated husband and father and his family struggles financially. The domestic portrait is well done with Pine’s character established as a complicated and flawed man trying to provide for his family but stuck in a militaristic way of life. Pine’s character connects with an old military buddy played by Ben Foster. Pine and Foster are a likable on-screen pair, having previously played brothers in 2016’s Hell or High Water, and they have a convincing rapport as men who share a deep bond. The action scenes of The Contractor are well done. During the operation, Pine’s character is covered in tactical gear but the actor and the filmmakers find ways to convey the character’s inner life and moral struggle through the action. The later set pieces are also well choreographed especially a shootout and chase scene set in a drainage canal.
What Doesn’t: The weakest element of The Contractor is the conspiracy. Pine’s character discovers that he was sent on the mission under false pretenses and he is not fighting the good fight. The revelation is no surprise. It’s obvious from the time Pine’s character is recruited that the contracting company is up to no good. The filmmakers don’t reveal the twist with much drama; Pine’s character doesn’t move forward in the story with a sense of purpose. He wants to get back to his family but there is no clear path to that goal and the film doesn’t lay out perceptible obstacles for him to overcome. The latter portion of The Contractor becomes a series of shootouts but with little sense of escalation or drama. It’s all very flat and in the end is empty; nothing has been accomplished or affirmed. The lack of substance or payoff is all the more disappointing because of the way it betrays the first part of the story. The filmmakers entertain the very real struggles of soldiers and their families but never really do anything with that idea.
Disc extras: None.
Bottom Line: The Contractor has a promising start but the film loses its way. It becomes just another shoot-’em-up movie but lacking the sense of purpose or drama essential to this kind of story.
Episode: #918 (September 18, 2022)