The Contract Cover Hiking is a glorious excursion. Firstly, because it fills your lungs with all that fresh air. Next, because it exercises your legs with all that walking. And finally, it bombards your senses with all those pastoral valleys. However, there are exceptions to the rules you know, as illustrated in this film, Directed by Bruce Beresford; and Starring: John Cusack and Morgan Freeman. It was made in 2006; and lasts for 97 minutes.

The Contract

Strained single parent, Ray Keene (John Cusak) has some trouble with son Chris (Jamie Anderson) at school, so he decides to take him on a hiking expedition within the rural countryside.

OK, normally this type of pursuit is a good thing to partake in. However, due to happenstance and misfortune, Ray and Chris’ paths intertwine with detained mercenary, Frank Carden (Morgan Freeman), when they find him handcuffed to a perspiring police officer by the side of a riverbank. Worst still, is that when they attempt to lead Frank – at gun point – to justice, they suddenly discover that Franks colleges are in toe too – whom follow them in turn.

So what do Ray and Chris do with Frank next? Well, they trail him across the wilderness – that’s what – in the vain attempt to lead him to the law. Granted, there path is a treacherous one, as they venture across marshlands – climb down cliffs – shelter inside caves – and trundle along a stream. Moreover, it is here – at the stream – where they then meet a young couple called Sandra and Mark (Megan Dodds and Owen Taylor), whom feel that they should also accompany this trekking trio, for fear of Franks cohorts.

But alas, when this group make there way across a rickety bridge, the young couple should not have really bothered. As Frank’s cohorts fly by in an ‘acquired’ helicopter and shoot Mark dead - thus tempering Ray’s resolve to fight back - before leading his ‘party’ to safety.

And does Ray manage to lead them to safety? Yes – yes he does – as he finds an old cabin for them to shelter in for the night. And do they shelter? No – no they don’t – as what then transpires is suspenseful, brash, and somewhat perplexing – as Franks cohorts attack – duplicity is revealed – turn around is fair play – and all is concluded in a elusive manner.

Or is it?

Now I had to ask myself one simple question after watching 'The Contact'  – and that question was ‘Huh?’. Yes – that’s right – my own question to myself had no words, but rather a strange querying sound effect. Well, to be honest with you, I did find this film a somewhat strange one to watch. And the reason why I say this, is because I felt like that I have watched it before, even when I know that I haven’t.

It’s as though the writer of this film has taken a lot of concepts from other films, and then amalgamated them all together to make something different.

You name it – it has it!

A single parent with a kid on the wane – a group of mercenaries on the prowl – a wilderness excursion full of turbulent obstacles – a love interest without no love – a confining situation charged with pent up frustration – and a silly police force with no sort of direction. Moreover, to make matters even more inane, the whole pretext is built around one mans decision to do what he thinks is right, without any justification as to why this is so!

John and Morgan in The Contract

Now the man I am referring to is John Cusack’s character (or Cossack if I turn my spell checker on). At the beginning of the film, he is given a clear observation by Morgan Freeman’s character (or Migvan if I turn my spell checker off), to 'let him be'. So what does he do while he is out in the wilderness with his son by his side and a dead cop crumpled by his feet? He has some sort of moral ‘high ground’ that he has to exhibit!

What a plonker!

Listen, if it was anybody else, they would say “Go ahead Migvan, on your way, as there is a 'voice over narration' you have to do for pensions or something”! But noooo – Cusack’s character is some sort of uptight twat, and needs to do the right thing, even though it is never fully explained why.

The Contract Film

So who is to blame for all of this? The main actors? No – all of then actually do the best they can with what they have at hand - even though it is kind of funny to see John as a Father and Morgan as the villain. OK then, maybe it was the director? No – not really – as most of the stuff captured on screen does look really polished - even though it does appear flat in a few places. Well, what about the less predominant parts? Again – no – all the supporting players do a good job too - and I especially liked the town Sheriff and his partner, very ‘Laurel and Hardy’.

So who is at fault then? Personally speaking, the money men and the writers, as together, they have tried to brand this film with a hodgepodge of ideas, without giving it any subtext or grounding. It’s no ‘Defiant Ones’ – it’s no 'Cleaner' –  it’s no 'Deliverance' – and it’s no 'Sneakers' – but what it is, is ‘The Contract’, a film that is fine to watch if you like the actors involved, or alternatively, if you like picturesque hiking expeditions with a twist.

Shame – as I would have liked something a bit more original.


THE CONTRACT THE CONTRACT Reviewed by David Andrews on August 15, 2011 Rating: 5
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