The Contract
I’m sorry, son, but it’s going to rain. That what’s in my contract.

Theatrical Release Date: 07/24/2007 (Straight to DVD)
Director: Bruce Beresford
Cast: John Cusack, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Anderson

How in the hell does the person who directed “Driving Miss Daisy” go on to do “Double Jeopardy” and now “The Contract”? Scratch that, I don’t care.

Okay, let me get this over with. I decided to give the film a shot because it has Morgan Freeman and John Cusack. I’m a big fan of both and figured that they would be enough to make even a direct-to-DVD studio toss-off worth my time.

Well, they tried … and they almost made it. But almost doesn’t win the lottery.

In the film, Freeman plays an assassin for hire. Through dumb, random luck he’s caught by the law before the big hit and is in the middle of being transported to federal authorities when (and I bet you don’t see this coming) his flunkies attempt his rescue.

However, ex-military and professional as they may be, they plan the worst rescue attempt since “Bloodrayne“. I’ll go ahead and “spoil” this one. You try and figure out where this could go wrong:

Freeman is in a car with federal marshals, driving on a state road. His goons plant a truck up the road on the hill with a flat tire that’s blocking both sides. Once the marshals stop, the rest of the bad guys drive their van up from behind. When the marshals get out to see if they can speed up the flat repair, the shooting begins … which spooks the marshal driving the car and he careens right through the side barrier and down the hill into the river.

I’m no expert in breaking felons out of protective custody but I would have done it on level ground so there’s no possibility of a car going off the side of the road and plunging towards probable disaster. But that’s just me.

In any case, Freeman is a wily old devil and he escapes from the car with a marshal right behind him. They struggle for a gun, the marshal gets shot and wouldn’t you know it, Cusack and his teenage son happen upon the scene just in time for the marshal to tell them Freeman needs to be returned to authorities right before he dies from the gunshot wound.

So already, we’re off to a rocky start as far as plot setup. Cusack and his son then procede to march Freeman through the woods, dodging the bad guys and even enlisting the help of another camping couple.

Oh, I almost forgot. Cusack’s wife died of cancer a few years back and so when the male half of the camping couple gets shot, you can guess where that plot point is headed. And that’s not even the straw that broke this film’s back.

After a series of unrealistic encounters with the professional assassins wherein Cusack of course prevails (since he’s a former cop turned high school teacher/sports coach), Freeman escapes. Due to another unnecessary plot point of his employer trying to double-cross him, Freeman hunts that person down and instead of just killing her, he threatens her life and says she shouldn’t go anywhere near Cusack or his son.

I’m sorry, what? There were moments when they tried to build this bridge of humanity/respect for one another but any decent hitman would have killed Cusack and the kid himself, and then the employer. This made absolutely no sense in the context of the film and literally had me asking what the hell was going on.

Unless you are a die hard fan of Freeman and/or Cusack and absolutely have to see every film they make, feel free to skip this one. If it weren’t for the strength of their acting ability, this film would have sank like the Titanic (the boat or the ridiculously over-hyped film).

I’m giving “The Contract” a 2 out of 5, giving it one more point than it deserves because I respect the actors too much. And as yet another example of the meticulous detail to which this film was planned, how about this little goof I read about on IMDb – At one point in the film, one of the bad guys gives GPS coordinates to one of their team so they can meet up. He tells him, “40.083 North, 25.55 West”. That’s in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, between Europe and North America. Washington state, where the movie is supposed to take place, lies approximately between Western longitudes 117 and 124 and Northern latitudes 46 and 49.