Friday, October 1, 2010

The Contractor (2007)

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Tagline:

The world's greatest marksman is now a marked man.

Back of DVD:

When retired marksman James Jackson Dial (Snipes) is given the chance to finish the one assignment the never completed, it's an opportunity he can't resist. Agreeing to fly to London and exterminate a deadly terrorist held in police custody, Dial soon finds this routine assignment quickly dissolves in to a nightmare...when he discovers he's been double-crossed and set up by his former employer. With the British police closing in and the Agency wanting to tie up any 'loose ends', Dial's only hope is a 12 year-old girl whom he reluctantly befriends as he desperately searches for a way out and the truth behind his betrayal.

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Movie Review:

It's high time I got some Snipes action onto this blog so why not start with a more recent DTV effort, The Contractor. Poor Wesley hasn't had a great deal of luck lately what with his well known tax issues, so he has had to make do with a whole stack of DTV actioners since 2004's Blade Trinity - some good (Chaos), some not so good (7 Seconds was pretty silly). The Contractor falls somewhere in between.

In Montana, Snipes is taking care of his horses on his ranch while he wears the full cowboy getup. Two black cars approach and Snipes goes inside to talk business. It seems Snipes once was a tops marksman for the CIA and has retired, but is now being offered 'one last mission' by his old boss Collins to assassinate a terrorist as he is being transported to jail in the UK. This mission is obviously off the radar so he has to get in and get out as quick as possible. Snipes has had a run in with this terrorist before so gladly accepts the chance to off him.

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He arrives in the UK and meets his driver who takes him on a cab ride to his hotel, briefly stopping to take photos of a clock tower (presumably going to be used for the assassination). After reviewing the plans with his associate, the next morning Snipes dons a priest outfit and takes his place in the tower with a sniper rifle, his associate on the ground on a walkie-talkie back to him. The prisoner exchange takes place and Snipes is ready to fire, but with all the cops around he misses his opportunity and the prisoner is taken into a building. Luckily he stands clear in the path of a window and Snipes pulls off his shot, knocking the guy dead. Snipes packs up and flees to the awaiting cab and driver but the cops are on to them and pursue. The cops get a lucky shot in and shoot the driver in the back of the head, the car loses control and flies into a flower stand. Snipes manages to free himself and plant a bomb, detonating the car behind him as he vanishes to the safe-house, an injured man.

The police investigate the scene of the crash, and the chick from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Lena Headey) and her father the Superintendent are among them. Now I only knew her from T:TSCC and little horror movie Broken so I was surprised to hear her with an English accent. I thought she was hamming it up but I was wrong, she was in fact putting on an American accent in Terminator. Her Superintendent father is Charles Dance who has been in every British movie and show ever made but you might know him as Dr. Clemence from Alien 3.

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As Snipes sleeps off his injury in the safe-house, a little girl about 14, Emily, sneaks in through the window. She sees the injured Snipes who refuses help, but she comes back again and again providing food and clothes. The two form a sweet bond; really she forms one with him, and he just doesn't tell her to get out louder than he should have. She sees a news report on TV that features Snipes and his dead accomplice, who she also knew as a neighbour. Meanwhile the Superintendent has a meeting with a member of the US Department of Justice who, via a dick-swinging competition, demands to be the lead on this case. What the Super doesn't know however is that the guy from the DOJ is the same guy that assigned Snipes the hit in the first place; Collins. OOH THE PLOT THICKENS.

Wesley Snipes has played the fugitive role before in movies like Murder at 1600 and U.S. Marshals. I swear he never smiles once in this movie either, even when humouring Emily. He gets his sorely underused martial arts out a couple of times towards the end, but don't think that this movie is in any way Explosive Action. It's an action thriller, just like the aforementioned movies, but it's not a bad one. It does suffer from the same editing techniques that a lot of modern DTV action movies do; the programmed, quick-snap motions, intentionally out of focus shots, wobbly cameras and flashing bright white lights. These are referred to as Avid Farts by Vern and I couldn't agree more. They are little blurts of filming that are meant to hasten the pace of the movie but really just get on your nerves after a while.

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Lena Headey plays her role well as the pursuer of Snipes. It gets personal for her when her father is killed, presumed to be by Snipes as he is caught by him, but this is in fact incorrect and only leads to Snipes being made public enemy number one. There's a lot of near-catches throughout the movie that Snipes manages to get away from, sometimes by the help of his new teenage friend who is simply looking for a father figure. He tries to buy an illegal passport so he can get home but even that guy cannot be trusted and dobs him in for a reward, yet still Snipes squirms away. It goes on like this for a while until finally ending in a three way shootout between Snipes, the 'good' cop Lena Headey and the 'bad' cop Collins. The most action is in this scene and one of the subsequent scenes where Snipes has a smackdown with one of Collins' associates and breaks his neck.

All in all not a bad little thriller (though it's nothing new), and all players act very well, even the girl who plays Emily wasn't as precocious as many other young actors. But it wouldn't have killed them to blow up a building or two. And I really think Snipes needs to do a movie like a sequel to Black Dynamite or something, where he can smile a bit and pull out some jive talk. He was offered Terry Crews' role on The Expendables but had to drop out due to some conflict with the tax office. The lesson here kids: always pay your tax!

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The Video:

Typical modern DTV movie; excellent sharpness and colours, though bright scenes are too bright and dark scenes are too dark. I am not sure why being shot on video generally results in this but it's common among most films of this variety. Sound is clear and solid. Runtime 94 minutes.

Sourced From:

eBay for a buck or two.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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7 comments:

  1. Good Review!

    Decent DTV Snipes movie. Better than Unstoppable and The Detonator.

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  2. I felt this was one of Snipes weakest films overall as the plot was third-rate and uninvolving, the action uninspired and the acting was average at best, but it still looks like a masterpiece next to Hard Luck, which is definitely Snipes WORST film, and it's one of the the worst DTV films of all time as well(it's right up there with Way Of War) All of Snipes other DTV films are much more enjoyable compared to that worthless piece of garbage! It has some of the worst acting of all time, virtually no action, a ocnfusing and asinine plot, and horrible directing, even Snipes looked bored off his ass in that film, so whatever you do, stay the hell away from Hard Luck!

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  3. Thanks for the comment venom. I agree, The Contractor is no Demolition Man or Money Train but I thought the plot was okay even if the action was low. I picked up Hard Luck cheap but it sounds like I should leave that on the shelf for a while! What's your favourite Snipes DTV?

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  4. My favorite of Snipes DTV efforts would be The Marksman, though Art Of War 2 is pretty damn good as well. Since you already own Hard Luck, i'd suggest you wait until you've seen and reviewed all of Snipes other DTV films before you even think of watching that film, though that film probably would be very effective in curing insomnia, that's pretty much the only good thing about that film.

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  5. Thanks for the tips venom, I have both the Art of War movies and The Marksman, so I think the next Snipes I do will me The Marksman... though I do plan on doing all three Undisputed films before that.

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  6. this was filmed in cardiff, where i live in wales.
    I remember when they were shooting it, was very cool. Nice review though....

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  7. Oh right! I am surprised I didn't recognise any scenery then as Doctor Who and Torchwood is filmed there, both of which I am a huge fan of.

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