most surprising thing about The Contract is that it is being released
straight-to-video without even the most cursory of theatrical runs.
(At least in the US, there were some brief dump-and-runs last year in
First of all – look at the stars. Morgan Freeman is a near guarantee
that a movie will be interesting, even if it is not necessarily great, and
he has an Oscar to prove it. John Cusack is one of the bigger, more
interesting actors in the Hollywood scene – granted his star has been kind
of on the wane in recent years, but he is still someone who should be able
to open a movie.
add to the confusion, The Contract is also Freeman's reunion with his
acclaimed Driving Miss Daisy director,
two-time Oscar winner Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, Breaker Morant).
The movie was obviously not made on the cheap, nor does it have the cheesy,
low-budget made-for-DVD look.
Still it is being dumped straight into video stores with little fanfare –
making it one of the highest-profile films yet to not even get a sniff of
the multiplexes. Which left me wondering when the review copy of the
DVD arrived in the mail – how bad could it possibly be?
Marine with wrestler John Cena – though The Contract does handle the
plot much more skillfully than that tepid potboiler.)Turns out not that bad at all, though rather formulaic. (In fact, the
basic storyline is extremely similar to last year's action film
Freeman plays Frank Cordell, a former CIA spook who has been under-the-radar
for the 30 years since he left the agency and turned into a gun-for-hire.
He is in the middle of planning a hit when a freak car crash puts him back
into the eye of the law.
When Cordell is being transferred to jail, a botched escape attempt by his
team leaves him in the middle of the woods, where the fed who is
accompanying him tells two campers to be sure to get him to jail – right
before dying. The campers are Ray Keene (John Cusack), a
former-cop-turned-teacher and his son (Jamie Anderson), who are trying to
mend the rifts in their relationships.
Thus begins a cat-and-mouse chase through the woods where Keene and his son
try to lead Cordell past his men, all the while his men take on the law.
There are crosses and double-crosses, crooked feds, multiple crashes and
shootouts. Nothing stunningly original, but it's mostly done in style.
The Contract would have never been a huge hit, but it is too good a film for the
ignominious fate it was assigned – skulking into the vid stores, hat in
hand. Hopefully enough people will find it on the lower shelves and
give it a shot to redeem itself.
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: July 28, 2007.