The Contract at the IMDb
You would think you’d have heard of the 2006 thriller starring Morgan Freeman and John Cusack, but the chances are you haven’t as it had the dreaded ‘DVD Premiere’ tag. Having seen it, it is not hard to see why as it’s a total mess despite what would appear to be a straightforward plot.
Cusack plays Ray, a widowed father to a wayward teen. He lost his wife to cancer two years previously and we know he’s still hurting as he wears a pink support bracelet. The off the rails kid is more stage school than reform school and his chat about reefers doesn’t ring true at all. The boy is excluded from school and to try for some bonding Cusack takes him on a hiking trip to the state park.
Meanwhile Morgan Freeman is planning a hit with four henchmen. They are all a bit colourful with one playing chess to show he’s the brains of the outfit. We aren’t told the target but stage one involves shoving a bloke in front of a car. Before stage two can take place Freeman is involved in a car smash of his own and wakes up chained to a hospital bed. His henchmen plot his escape as only Morgan has the bank codes and soon the standard ‘broken down truck’ ploy has freed the aged assassin.
Not quite however as the escape plan sends freeman down river with a shot FBI agent where he is rescued by Cusack and his son. What follows is the predictable cat and mouse set up you’d expect as Cusack tries to keep ahead of Morgan’s mates and return him to justice. Meanwhile the Borg Queen and some local hick sheriffs try to save the day. With the finale approaching will Freeman manage to fulfil ‘The Contract’ which is largely forgotten throughout the film but still serves as its title.
This film probably serves as the ‘Day 1’ showing on the ‘Troubled Production’ section of any film school course. The main issue is that it doesn’t make any sense and there are unnecessary complications that add nothing to the mix except those unwanted ingredients of confusion and dissatisfaction.
The main issue I had was with the whole police angle. They may have been solely employed as filler to the patchy script but they did nothing apart from comment on the coffee and local law enforcement. The sub-plot of one of Freeman’s men being a plant wasn’t explored and I’ve no idea what the motivation of his boss, The Borg Queen, was.
The finale, where we were meant to be wrong footed about the assassination target, was totally fudged and I was totally expecting the revealed target and not the ridiculous suggestion that it might be the President.
The cast looked largely disinterested and Freeman totally didn’t convince as the hard as nails, military trained assassin. He wandered about in his suit trying to play mind games with his captors but exuded all the menace of Graham Norton on an extra camp day. Cusack looked aghast at some of the hokey dialogue he was provided and again his motivation was unclear. The idea that he was marching a hit man about the mountains to show his son about responsibility was as laughable as it was unbelievable.
There was possibly a good film in here somewhere with a clearly excellent cast and large budget that was at least used to show an impressive helicopter crash. It does however have to go down as a wasted opportunity with a messy script and sketchy characters signalling its failure before the first half hour had passed.
THE Tag Line - It’s only 90 minutes! 28%