'The Contractor' Asks How Ex-Spec Ops Warriors Are Supposed to Feed Their Families

Chris Pine The Contractor
Chris Pine stars in the spec ops thriller in "The Contractor." (Paramount Pictures)

"The Contractor" represents the third movie that actors Chris Pine and Ben Foster have made together. They starred in "The Finest Hours," the finest Coast Guard movie ever, and in "Hell or High Water," the classic modern western that launched "Yellowstone" writer/director Taylor Sheridan's career.

This time, they're a pair of ex-Army Rangers who team up on a mission for a private military contractor. Pine is James Harper, who's separated from the Army after a new commanding officer requires a blood test and he's busted with all the medication in his system that he needs to keep his body functioning to do the job.

Broke and facing financial ruin, Harper reaches out to his former commanding officer Mike (Foster). Mike introduces James to Rusty (Kiefer Sutherland), a military contractor who promises that his company, unlike its warriors-for-hire competition, will only take on righteous work that aims to promote good in the world. James, desperate for cash, takes Rusty at his word and goes home with a $50,000 check.

Soon, James and Mike are packed off to Berlin to interrogate a scientist (Fares Fares), who's been described as a bioterrorist, and shut down his lab. The mission goes wrong, but not before the scientist puts doubts in James' head about whether he's really the bad guy.

Rusty decides that his latest hire can't be trusted and sends his men to put James down for good. Since James is played by, you know, Chris Pine, that mission will not go as Rusty planned.

"The Contractor" is yet another movie that's had its release date screwed up by pandemic theater closings. Originally set for a big holiday release in 2021, it's now trickling out to a few theaters while simultaneously available to buy or rent on digital home video.

This is the first English-language film from Swedish director Tarik Saleh, who's also directed episodes of Showtime's "Ray Donovan" and HBO's "Westworld." Saleh and screenwriter J.P. Davis (who also co-wrote Gerard Butler's upcoming action movie, "The Plane") aren't interested in copying the frantic killing sprees that everyone's been trying to make since they saw "John Wick."

"The Contractor" is the kind of methodical, slow-burn action picture that could have been made in any decade, starting with the 1970s. Pine has to work through his guilt over taking a private military gig, and he and Foster definitely have some stuff to work out before the movie's over.

This movie deserved a wide release with a full publicity campaign. If you're looking for a solid spec-ops thriller, don't miss it.

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