The Contract is a 2006 film directed by Bruce Beresford and written by television writers Stephen Katz and John Darrouzet. A cat-and-mouse thriller as well as mixing elements of crime, adventure and action, The Contract stars Morgan Freeman as assassin Frank Carden and John Cusack as teacher Ray Keene. Released directly to video in the United States and most of Europe after being released at festivals in the States and Israel, The Contract received little critical notice, despite its high-profile cast.
Frank Carden (Morgan Freeman) is a professional assassin who has been hired to kill a reclusive billionaire named Lydell Hammond, Sr., a vocal opponent of stem cell research. Carden's plan goes awry when he gets injured in a car accident and ends up in the hospital. When hospital staff see his gun, they call the police. They are able to peel away his false identity and federal marshals are called in to pick him up.
Widower Ray Keene (John Cusack), a high school gym teacher, ex-cop, and well-intentioned but not very able dad to Chris (Jamie Anderson), belatedly realizes the need to bond with his son when the latter gets caught smoking marijuana, and takes him hiking in the wilderness. Carden is being driven through that same wilderness by the marshals, but his men stage a rescue attempt. Most of the marshals end up dead; the car crashed and the surviving marshal asks Keene to take the prisoner to the authorities and then dies of his injuries. Ray and Chris have to get Carden out of the wilderness and hand him over to the authorities. Carden's men, highly skilled ex-military thugs, track them down to rescue Carden and kill the Keenes. The pursuit brings a couple, Sandra and Lochlan (Megan Dodds and Ryan McCluskey) into the crossfire, with Lochlan being killed by Carden's men.
In a tense standoff in a cabin in the woods, Carden's friends turn up and Keene agrees to let Carden go. Just at that moment, one of Carden's thugs bursts in and punches Chris, causing Keene to panic and kill both thugs, sustaining critical wounds in the process. Carden escapes, taking Chris as a hostage while Sandra and Keene are rescued by the local police. Feeling defeated and resting at home, a televised news report echoes an earlier conversation about Carden's job description with the key phrase "exterminating obstacles to progress", making Keene aware of Carden's intended target. Keene heads to the funeral of Hammond, Jr. to intercept Carden, and inadvertently saves Carden from an attempted assassination from Carden's recent recruit, Davis (Corey Johnson). Carden gets the upper hand on Davis, killing him with his own sniper rifle. However, the battle forces Carden to miss his own window of opportunity to assassinate Hammond, Sr. Carden relents in giving Keene a set of keys to a hotel room where Carden locked up Chris, letting father and son reunite while he disappears.
In Washington, D.C., Carden intercepts his mission handler, Miles (Alice Krige), aware of her role in hiring Davis to kill him. Carden threatens to pursue her if any harm were to come to the Keene family. Two weeks after the incident, Keene enters into a relationship with Sandra and holds a family barbecue, expressing disbelief in hearing a radio news report about Hammond, Sr. dying in a boating accident, realizing that Carden finished his contract killing.
- John Cusack as Ray Keene
- Jamie Anderson as Chris Keene
- Morgan Freeman as Frank Carden
- Megan Dodds as Sandra
- Jonathan Hyde as Turner
- Corey Johnson as Davis
- Alice Krige as Miles
- Ian Shaw as Michaels
- Jonas Talkington as paramedic
- Spike Dauner as helicopter pilot #1
- Maynard Eziashi as Robbins
Background information and notesEdit
- Director Bruce Beresford talks extensively about the production of the movie in his memoir Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants To do This... True Stories From A Life In The Screen Trade. He has previously worked with Freeman on the acclaimed film Driving Miss Daisy.
- The film has been compared to Cliffhanger.
- The film was shot almost exclusively in Bulgaria and the DSK Bank central headquarters served as one of the main sets.
- The scenes on the large rock were filmed at the Zlatnite Mostove on the Vitosha Mountain by Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria.
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