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‘The Contractor’ review: Chris Pine action thriller yearns to be more

It takes a swing at taking on loftier issues.

The Contractor takes Chris Pine away from high priced CGI effects and intergalactic battles. Special Forces Sergeant James Harper (Pine) has been discharged from the Army and had his pension cut. In debt and desperate, he is put in touch with a private underground military. It does not take long for things to go awry and for Harper to find himself on the run from those who have betrayed him. 

If it all sounds familiar, that is because it is. These types of action thrillers are not trying to reinvent the reel, however. Movies like The Contractor are all about the action set pieces and high adrenaline fun. It is not a question of whether this film brings anything new to the table, but if it can excite audiences with what it does. 

That being said, The Contractor does take a swing at taking on loftier issues. Classism, love of one’s country, and of course, the military, are woven into the plot early on. These ideas remain pervasive during the film, but all end up moving into the background with the increased reliance on gunfights and heroics. 

While these scenes are a big part of the script, there is always the sense that it wants to be something more. Despite its poster, The Contractor never relies on hollow flag waving bombast. On the contrary, a running theme is about how disposable soldiers can be. This idea is not one that is left to be espoused alone by Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland), a former soldier who has gone into the much more profitable mercenary for hire business. It is a motif that remains after it has been introduced. 

The Contractor also includes strong performances from its cast. This is most evident in the chemistry between Harper and another former military man, Mike (Ben Foster). The two play off each other perfectly and are another reason the movie is able to rise above its numerous action set pieces. 

Most who watch the movie will be taken in most by the story it tells. It offers enough of the familiar to entice fans of the genre while bringing the nuance needed to attract those who may normally ignore it. The Contractor does not dive as deeply as it seems to want to, but succeeds nonetheless.

The Contractor is available in theaters, On Demand, and digital April 1

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