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the contract The Contract
Directed by:
Bruce Beresford
Cast: Morgan Freeman, John Cusack, Jamie Anderson, Ned Bellamy, Johnathan Hyde

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

August 13, 2007

One of the great things about Morgan Freeman is that, as an actor, he is completely a unirace.  Don’t forget who coined the word unirace now!


There are many other actors around who are good but they let their ethnicity get in front of their personae.  You will never think of Morgan Freeman in terms of Black or White.  He is an actor in the same mold of Laurence Olivier who can step into any role and make it believable.  I’d bet that if he played Shakespeare, he could be a King Lear with 3 white daughters and you would never think about his color.  This is the case of a personality being greater than our conceptions.  Many directors and producers plays the race card when selecting their actors.  With Morgan Freeman it has never been necessary.  He is truly a non race person, at least on screen and at least to the best of our memory.

In this movie, Morgan Freeman plays Frank Cordell who is running a very profitable Murder Incorporated organization.  He even counts the US government as a client.  Frank Cordell heads a bunch of assassins for hire who do not care who the target is and have no compunction about murdering in cold blood. 

On the eve of a major assignment he is in a freak car accident.  The police in the small town of Woodburn, in the leafy Washington state, fingerprint him while he is still unconscious and discover that he is a dangerous character.  They contact the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.   

Word gets around to Washington and an ultra bitchy FBI handler Miles (Alice Krige) who has been hiring Frank Cordell’s group for multiple assassinations determines that he has become a liability and decides to have him eliminated.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Woodburn, there is this family of two.  A grieving father Ray Keene (John Cusack) and a rebellious teenage son Chris Keene played by Jamie Anderson.  The two cannot accept the loss of the wife and mother to cancer.  The son has been busted for smoking pot, so the father decides to take him on a camping trip.

Back in the hospital, Frank manages to contact his friends who plan to rescue him. 

The Federal Marshals pick Frank Cordell and transport him out of town. On the way, they are ambushed by Frank’s accomplices and murdered.  However, the rescue attempt goes bad and Frank and a US Marshal, while still trapped in the car, fall into the river which carries them downstream.  That is where the path of the two antagonists crosses.  Ray and Chris rescue Frank Cordell and the Marshal; who before dying entrusts his handcuffed prisoner to Ray. 

Frank Cordell pleads with the family to let him go for their own sakes.  While they are initially hesitant, they decide to transport him to the main road and hand him over to the government authorities.  The rest of the story is about the father and son bonding and trying to outsmart Frank’s associates.  The FBI is also on the scene with the bitchy Miles offering one of Frank’s associates $500,000 to kill Frank before he could be captured.  Along the way, they meet a nice looking girl Sandra (Megan Dodds) and we are treated to the antics of a country bumpkin sheriff played by Bill Smitrovich. 

Despite Bruce Breseford’s direction, this was not a very good movie.  The plot written by Stephen Katz and John Darrouzet was frankly amateurish and had many holes in it.  For example, the bad guys were using Wi-Fi wireless on their laptops, while in the middle of the forest, to communicate with the outside world and download maps but Ray Keene could not use his cell phone in the same forest to summon help.  Cinematography by Dante Spinotti was adequate but not sensational.  Outdoor cinematography, especially when you have magnificent vistas is easy.  All you have to do is point your expensive camera at the scenery and try not to lose the actors! 

The acting by everyone except Morgan Freeman and perhaps Alice Krige who plays Miles was worthy of a B movie.  John Cusack’s performance was particularly disappointing.  Even Jamie Anderson acted more professionally in this movie. 

There is no sex in this movie and only a mild reference to pot use.  The nude scene is too brief and distant to be even noticeable. 

We give this movie starstar.  It is worth renting for the whole family. 

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