The Contractor (July 11/07)
While certainly a vast improvement over Wesley Snipes' more recent straight-to-video efforts - including 2005's The Marksman and 2006's The Detonator - The Contractor is ultimately undone by director Josef Rusnak's flat-out inability to effectively shoot an action sequence. The filmmaker, presumably in an effort to punch up such moments, bombards the viewer with needless camera tricks, quick cuts, and even freeze frames (!); there's consequently no denying that the movie is often far more successful as a drama than as an actioner, with the inclusion of several genuinely compelling performances only cementing this feeling.
The movie casts Snipes as James Dial, a retired CIA agent who's called back into action after a deadly terrorist - one that the erstwhile assassin has been gunning for since he left the service - is spotted in London. But after being double-crossed by his former employers, Dial is forced to go on the run - where he eventually finds an ally in a scrappy twelve-year-old (Eliza Bennett's Emily).
Despite their best efforts to infuse The Contractor with more depth than its low-budget brethren, screenwriters Robert Foster and Joshua Michael Stern generally come up empty in terms of offering up an engaging storyline - with the egregiously slow pace certainly not helping matters. And while the unusually strong work from most of the actors sporadically elevates the proceedings (Snipes actually seems to be trying for a change, while co-stars Charles Dance, Lena Headey, and especially Bennett offer up performances that are clearly much better than the material deserves), The Contractor is never quite able to establish itself as anything more than a slightly above-average entry within a seriously stale genre.