The Contractor(now in theatres )
Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gillian Jacobs, Eddie Marsan, J. D. Pardo, Florian Munteanu, Kiefer Sutherland
Directed by Tarik Saleh
Rating: ** ½
A lot of The Contractor is about the miscarriage of justice. Islamophobia also creeps into coiling-recoiling narrative when a scientist Salim ,played by Fares Fares who played the lead in Tarik Saleh’s excellent The Nile Hilton Incident, is killed in a covert operation.
Saleh’s new film, a taut and partially gripping spy thriller , is not in the same league as The Nile Hilton Incident. But it possesses a sense of hurried anxiety which is not quite the heart-in-the-mouth situation it should have been. But the end-product is sufficiently sleek, though not always convincing.
The charismatic Chris Pine as Harper reminds you of his namesake Chris Hemsworth in his veteran soldier’s role. Harper is just back from wartime vigilance. Civilian life with wife(Gillial Jacobs, effective in her limited space) and son is tough specially since Harper is cash-strapped.
When best friend Mike(Ben Foster,constantly generating interest in his character through his concentrated energy) suggests some quick and big bucks by an covert army operation, Harper agrees.
The wages of mercantile sinning is debt. The plot encircles Foster and Mike’s need and weighs it against their greed. Once the pair sets off on their mission—to destroy the scientific work of a Muslim scientist Salim who is working on a new anti-virus vaccination , the heat and thrust kick in with a vigorous penetrative momentum.
You may not approve of the plot’s politics, abiding as it does by the Innocent Terrorist theory. But you won’t be able to take your eyes of Harper’s feverish attempts to flee from what was obviously a set-up.
What is a trifle off putting are convenient plot points, like Harper, Mike and Salim all siring a son each of nearly the same age. This gives the plot a convenient peg to perpetuate a parental poignancy in the midst of the gunfire of vanities.
The plot is pleasantly freed of flab. It is sleek and synergetic , neither overcooked nor undermined by that esotericism which creates an unnecessary dramatic tension .The blows land fast and mostly on target. The action when it moves to Berlin is riveting.
If at all there is something troubling the narrative, it is the scarcity of family moments. Barely do we see Chris Pine slowing down for some tender loving care. This is not the time or place for slowing down.