I’ll Review Anything: The Contractor (2022)

I never thought I would ever subscribe to HBO Go, which is the Asian equivalent of HBO Max. I just never felt the need to get the streaming service because I just never saw anything of particular interest on it. Sure, it has Game of Thrones, Succession and some other critically acclaimed originals on it. But I already have Netflix, Disney+ and Discovery+. Well, that all changed a couple of weeks ago because Discovery+ will be discontinued by the end of the month. As a consolation, Discovery+ subscribers were given the option to get HBO Go at half the regular price for the entire year. I thought “Why not?” and got the service.

So now that I have HBO Go, what do I watch? Well, I guess I could watch The Last of Us (but why when I already played the video game twice?), Jurassic World: Dominion (which, by all accounts, is the worst of the new Jurassic Park/World films) or The White Lotus (but I already have too many shows in my backlog so why add another?). Oh, I could finally go see Top Gun: Maverick and Everything Everywhere All At Once, two films I really wanted to see but I just didn’t for one reason or another.

But, nope! Like a dummy, I decided the first movie to watch was a film I never even heard of. The first thing I watched on HBO Go was The Contractor, starring Chris Pine. Why? Because it’s only 139 minutes. Yes, the reason I picked The Contractor was because it was short! Was this a bad idea? Let’s go find out!

The Contractor has Chris Pine star as James Harper, a Sergeant who had his benefits stripped when he was tested for illegal steroids to rehab his knee. Now strapped for cash, James takes a job for Rusty Jennings, a man who says he runs clandestine missions for the United States. During the mission, which was to retrieve a laptop from an alleged terrorist, things goes sideways and turns for the worse when Rusty sends people to kill James in order to tie tie up loose ends.

Now, I didn’t go into The Contractor with any high hopes that is was going to be this hidden gem no one was talking about. All I wanted for it was to be a fun action movie with some twists and turns. But even with such low expectations, I couldn’t help but feel let down by the film. Everything just comes across as so tepid and blah for one reason or another.

This feels especially disappointing when you do have a pretty talented cast working on the film. Chris Pine never gets to show his charming side all throughout the film. Except for maybe one emotional scene near the end of the film, he never really gets to show any real depth of character, making him feel incredibly one-dimensional. There’s also Kiefer Sutherland as Rusty Jennings. At least the script allows Kiefer Sutherland to show a little range as he has to act all friendly and welcoming while hiding his more cutthroat side underneath. This makes him more of a two dimensional character against Chris Pine’s one dimensional performance! Everyone else just seems to be phoning it in.

As I never connected with any of the characters, it also affected my opinion of the action scenes. Honestly, if they were viewed in a bubble, The Contractor does have some good and well performed fight choreography and shootouts. However, since I didn’t really give a crap about any of the characters, I really didn’t care what happened to them. Sure, things go bang-bang and all that. But unless I’m concerned whether or not our hero will get out of it alive, it’s all just fluff to me.

As with any good action-thriller film, The Contractor tries to add a little bit of intrigue with a couple of twists and turns. Unfortunately, the movie fails at that, too! In fact, the final twist, which involves why Kiefer Sutherland’s character ordered his team to kill Chris Pine’s character, isn’t really explained clearly. This throws into question why Rusty wanted James dead so bad! Not only that, some plot points, such as James’ injured knee, seems to be forgotten by the end of the film. I can’t help but think the script needed another rewrite or rewrites were made during the filming process so these issues didn’t get ironed out until it was too late to fix it.

The worst thing about The Contractor is how unmemorable it is. The story is very standard so nothing really stands out. The characters have very little personality and the acting is just flat. The action is okay but never tries to be more than just good. It’s just… there. If it didn’t have stars like Chris Pine and Kiefer Sutherland, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Contractor was just some direct-to-video production. And not the good kind of direct-to-video movie where the people behind the film poured all their passion into the project. I mean the bad kind where a production conglomerate are ticking off checkboxes off a list.

On a technical level, The Contractor is an adequate movie. It’s fairly well made and all that. But the problem is it never takes any risks creatively and decides to play it safe. The Contractor is a by the numbers action thriller with no surprises and a story with a couple of plot holes. Serves me right for trying to get lucky with my first HBO Go movie.

Have you seen The Contractor? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!


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