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The Contract presents itself as an engaging action thriller with lots
of twists. Including the always enjoyable performances of John Cusack
and Morgen Freeman one should be in for a great ride. But after several
moments into this film it becomes clear why the script has been lying
on a dusty shelf somewhere for so long, waiting for top actors to get
Even with the star involvement, the movie just fails to surpass its weak plot and tired premise. Ex-cop Ray, (Cusack) estranged father, and his son are on a hike to better their relationship when they stumble upon a fatally injured policeman and his prisoner, the hit-man Carden (Freeman). In stead of just letting Carden walk as Carden suggests, Ray, for no apparent reason, decides to turn him over to the police at the risk of his own life and that of his son. After this the chase through the woods for Carden by both the police and Carden's accomplices begins. With people running through bushes, occasional gunfire and certain bad weather.
Although Freeman and Cusack give away ample performances, the dialog seems to be that of some average TV-series. The villains and the characters of the police fare even worse. The movie just doesn't pick up any speed as it steers clear from any interesting action or build up of suspense. And especially the lack of motive for Ray to keep going with his plan to turn Carden in gets annoying after a while and this doesn't work very well in terms of sympathy for his hero-character. It is obvious that Catz wanted to write a story in which the bad guy develops sympathy for his capturer and maybe the other way around as well. But the cheesy, almost campy way this is attempted and the high number of scenes that just don't make any sense, stand in the way of its success.
Like the former reviewer pointed out, the movie is crammed with clichés and is lacking any originality. There are no mentionable plot-twists to keep the film interesting and the hackneyed screenplay is often accidentally comical.
I wouldn't even recommend getting the DVD. Just wait till it's the movie of the week and then see something else in stead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll admit, I had fairly high hopes for this film. I like Morgan Freeman. I think everyone does. The idea of Morgan Freeman playing a villain sounded great. The premise seemed a little simple- but many great ideas are simple. Then I saw the movie. Within the first twenty minutes, I realized what it was- another poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted and illogical action/adventure movie. I like the genre, don't get me wrong, but the whole "good-hearted average joe is outnumbered by trained assassins and manages to kill them all in somewhat novel but ultimately unrealistic ways while he bonds with his estranged son" plot has been done. So many times. Here it is rehashed, acted and written like it was always intended to go direct to video. If you've seen Cliffhanger, you've seen a better version of this movie. And for the record, I really didn't think Cliffhanger was all that great.
This film is about the chase between cops, assassin's associates,
assassin and an ex-cop.
The plot is very simple. Run, run and run. Apart from the constant displacement, there is really not much more to the film. As a result, there is no room to develop the characters. The dialog is weak. The only line that had some depth was when Chris exclaimed that he never thought his father listened to him.
The suspense looks too artificial. Why must they climb down the cliff in pouring rain? Is there really no alternative route? The editing was not tight enough to allow the suspense to sustain. Female nudity is put into the film in such a way that seems totally out of place and unnecessary.
In the end, Morgan Freeman's and John Cusack's characters developed respect and sympathy for each other. This could have been portrayed in more detail.
The only redeeming feature is the beautiful scenery. The valleys and waterfalls are breathtaking.
Ray Keene is a former policeman who is struggling to build his
relationship with his young son. His plan to bond over a camping trip
in the woods goes sour though when they come across a hit-man (Cordell)
in the middle of escaping Government custody. Keene holds Cordell at
gunpoint but without a mobile phone signal they begin to trek towards
civilisation. However with Cordell's men hot on their heels, Ray
becomes increasingly desperate as he tries to get to the protection of
I saw this film on an overnight bus crossing Argentina. I mention this not as name dropping but to admit that the sound was very low as must passengers were sleeping and relying on headphones or the Spanish subtitles. Without headphones or a working Spanish, I prepared to strain my ears and also use the subtitles the best I could. I needn't have worried because I could have followed this if the sound was on mute and the DVD was playing all the scenes on random shuffle. The plot is simple perhaps but it did offer a sort of moral ambiguity that was interesting to me at first. With two strong actors in the leads I expected the verbal fireworks to be more interesting than the action. In a way I was correct but this is not to say that the script was good just that the action was poor. The moral complexity of good and bad is skirted on but is ultimately dumped in a ending that is nothing more than insultingly lazy writing.
Fortunately anyone getting to the end will not be surprised by this as it is pretty much what the previous hour or so had been like. The narrative is totally unconvincing and offers little to make up for it. The tension that could have covered the plot holes is absent and the action is mostly just dumb. Writers Katz and Darrouzet deserve much of the credit for this because really nobody is given much to work with. Director Beresford does the basics with little conviction but I did feel sorry for the cast. Freeman and Cusack both deserved much better than this nonsense. Freeman I assume was attracted by the chance to play a baddie and it is a shame then the script doesn't really let him do this with any effort. Cusack does what is asked of him but nothing more. The support cast are average at best in keeping with their cardboard characters.
Overall then a roundly poor film that offers nothing of interest and wastes the talents of the two actors in the lead. If I hadn't been a captive audience I would have struggled to make it past the 30 minute mark.
I am a huge fan of both Morgan Freeman and John Cussack, so when I saw
this rental at Hollywood Video, I didn't hesitate, it seemed like a
very good idea of the two of them being together in the film. However,
I was disappointed when I brought it home and looked up the rating on
IMDb to see an average rating. But knowing I had to get my money's
worth, I watched it this evening, now I didn't think it was a bad
movie, but it was pretty average for what I was expecting from these
extremely talented actors. The plot had extreme potential, but some
things were not explained well enough, like the characters just had no
depth. The script just needed some more work.
After Ray's son gets into trouble, he wants to do a little bonding with him, so he takes him camping. But things get a little interesting when he and his son try to save two people from the river who have washed ashore, one of them is a police officer who is fatally wounded and the other man, Cander, is a hit man who is wanted by the F.B.I. and is also being followed by his fellow assassins. Ray and his son take Cander and try to take him to the police, but it's hard when the assassins are after all of them and won't stop until they get what they want.
A hit-man with a heart of gold, not that original, not that believable, not to mention how some of the plot seemed a bit mediocre and confusing at times. Now, Morgan and John did a good job with what they had, they made the film watchable. They really did have good chemistry so I do hope they do a film together soon, just before they do that, they read the script first. So The Contract is a film I would say is watchable, just like I said, it's a bit average for what you would expect, but just judge for yourself.
The widower teacher and baseball and basketball coach Ray Keene (John
Cusack) lost his wife that died of cancer two years ago. When his
teenage son Chris Keene (Jamie Anderson) is caught by the police
smoking pot, Ray invites him to hike and camp in the woods to increase
their bonds. Meanwhile, the mercenary assassin Frank Cordell (Morgan
Freeman) is arrested by FBI after a car accident in the middle of a
contract to kill an important target. While Frank is traveling on the
road escorted by three FBI agents, his men try to rescue him, but his
car falls into a river and is carried by the drift. Ray helps the
wounded agent and the cuffed Frank to leave the river, and feels
responsible to deliver Frank to justice. The former policeman and
stubborn Ray does not listen to Frank's proposal to leave him alone and
travel through the woods with Chris, trying to find a safe place. But
the men of the Frank and an undercover agent in the team are chasing
the group with different lethal intentions.
"The Contract" is a shallow and flawed thriller that has the intention of being dramatic and serious, but actually is laughable. The silly plot is full of coincidences and stupid actions taken by most of the characters. For example, in the beginning, the FBI agent leaves the car to help the truck driver on the road; the attitude of the crew of the helicopter is simply ridiculous when they land, specially the pilot; the way a suburban coach defeats trained mercenaries is shameful; and the coincidences when the bad guys shoot and miss the target are awful; the hiker Sandra loses her boyfriend and never grieves; and the corny romance of Sandra and Ray, and the incredible sentimental attitude of Frank Cordell in the end make this film a great deception. The motives why the reclusive billionaire apparently could not criticize the stem cell research program in a democratic and free country are never clarified, only tagged as "an obstacle to the progress". Is this a reason to kill and important man? My vote is five.
Title (Brazil): "O Contrato" ("The Contract")
I'm sorry. I am a huge fan of John Cusak and Morgan Freeman. I have loved their work's apart and when my wife brought home this movie from the store last night, my heart actually skipped a beat. My first chance to see them working together. John's wit and Morgan's presence...I popped it right into the DVD Player. I was intrigued at first. A little bit of good action, some Freeman dry wit. Then it all fell apart. Cusak just seemed to be phoning his performance in...even with the horrible lines. Freeman almost seemed to be bemused with the terrible story line and the bad acting all around him. And the plot...just a little too out there for me. The one point that explains why Cusak's character does what he does for the rest of the movie is given no background. Just one line given by Cusak. It actually angered me that I not only sat through this drivel, but actually paid to rent it! Cusak and Freeman both hacked their way through this just for the paycheck at the end. Sad really. My opinion...stay away from it. You'll feel better about both actors.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoilers included for your entertainment...
How did Morgan Freeman and John Cusack get involved with this project? One word: money. Poorly written, (over)produced (hint: there are more producers listed in the credits, than speaking parts), directed, and acted, it's a real mess. Morgan, a military-trained assassin accepts a contract, only to be waylaid in a car accident, and becomes involved with several hikers - including John Cusack and his emotionally estranged son, trying to bond. Bumbling local cops and the FBI butt heads during the investigation. Not a single thought of originality during this 85 minute celluloid cesspool. During a scene where everyone on the ground is watching a helicopter do a flyover, there's a second helicopter - containing the in-air camera crew - directly behind it. Morgan's crew comes to rescue him - via a helicopter - and the sniper draws a bead on Morgan with, "so long old man". What? A gust of wind causes the helicopter to move, and the sniper shoots the wrong person. For the rest of the aerial action, the sniper tries to shoot everyone except Morgan. Huh? As the movie progresses, the sniper tries to kill Morgan again. There's more, of course, but why bother?
This film was a real let-down for Cusack and Freeman fans alike.
A movie doesn't have to have a large cast, doesn't need to include special effects, it can be good even if it runs for only 83 minutes and is set mostly in the woods- but in this case it just didn't work.
There are so many movies that come to mind while watching this one, déjà-vu all the time.
The plot is also very predictable and nothing much happens.
The only good thing is the scenery but the talents of the two stars are waisted here.
They did succeed in putting some Starbucks and Sony product placements in there though, even if the setting almost didn't allow for it.
Absolutely uneventful. The acting was downright awful and I honestly have to blame a lot of that on the screen writing. The story was laughable and the people who created this movie managed to take a couple of halfway decent actors (well, maybe Morgan Freeman anyway) and make quite a joke out of the kill-for-hire 'business'. I almost managed to make it to the end, but winded up having to skip a couple of chapters because I felt as if I was on a nature hike right along with the whole cast. Seriously boring, uneventful and *definitely* unimaginative. I'd skip this one unless you're just a die hard Freeman/Cusack fan.
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