The Contractor – DVD Review

Available at


Josef Rusnak


Wesley Snipes ………. James Dial
Lena Headey ………. Ballard
Ralph Brown ………. Collins
Charles Dance ………. Windsor
Eliza Hope Bennett ………. Emily

The Movie

How does an action star go from appearing in many blockbuster movies on the big screen to a series of “straight-to-DVD” movies on your television screen? You may want to ask Steven Seagal or Jean-Claude Van Damme about that. Better yet, how about asking the 21st century version of those two action stars. Wesley Snipes is quickly following in Seagal’s and Van Damme’s footsteps. His latest action film, The Contractor, headed straight for DVD, but you might actually get this confused with another movie that was recently on the big screen. Only for a split second, though.

The Contractor stars Wesley Snipes as James Dial. James Dial is a retired marksman living in Montana now and dealing with his failure in killing one of the world’s most notorious terrorists. Dial is coaxed back by his former employers to finish the job in London. However, after doing just that he is ultimately double-crossed and accused of killing a high-ranking British policeman named Windsor (Charles Dance). This sends Dial into hiding, where he meets an unlikely friend in a 12-year-old girl, Emily (Eliza Hope Bennett). Together they search for the truth before it’s too late.

After watching this movie, you may find yourself comparing it to Shooter starring Mark Wahlberg. That should be a very easy comparison to make considering that the plot for both movies seems to be identical, except for where the two films are located and who the main hero becomes allies with. Before The Contractor was known by that name, it’s working title was The Shooter. Is it also another coincidence that both movies get released to DVD a couple of weeks apart? You should stop the comparisons there, as it becomes clear after watching The Contractor why one film made it the movie theaters while the other one went “straight-to-DVD.”

The acting in The Contractor is decent. Wesley Snipes does an average job as the main character, but he doesn’t seem to be working as hard in this movie as he has in previous features. The supporting cast is comprised of lower-rung stars, the most notable being Lena Headey (300) and Charles Dance. But, when a 12-year-old girl, who is relatively new to acting, is the second-best actor in the movie that should tell you a lot. Eliza Hope Bennett does a fine job in her role, but none of the actors really reach out and engage the audience. They all seem to just be going through the motions.

What can save an action movie with average acting and make it above average are the action scenes themselves. If a movie is non-stop action, then you won’t have much time to notice the lack of quality acting. Unfortunately, The Contractor is not a non-stop action movie. There are many slow spots throughout the movie and the action scenes seem to be few and far between. There does need to be time to slow things down and develop characters, but with the exception of the interaction between Wesley Snipes and Eliza Hope Bennett, there is nothing here either.

While Mark Wahlberg is on his way up as a quality action star, Wesley Snipes is on his way down. Snipes has been in a lot better action movies – the Blade series, Demolition Man – than this one; it is a movie that never gets above the “average” level. There is nothing special about the acting and the action scenes are relatively few compared to other movies like this. This is a decent action flick, but you have seen this movie done before and done better.

The Video:

The video is given in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video is pretty good for a “straight-to-DVD” movie. It’s on par with other new release movies actually, which shouldn’t surprise you.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. No problems real problems here either. The music and dialogue comes out loud and clear. It’s actually probably better than you would expect from this type of movie.

The Extras:

“A Look Inside The Contractor” Featurette
This is a 20 minute featurette about the making of the movie. It’s your usual featurette that you see on 95% of all DVDs released these days. We get comments from the cast and crew about all aspects of the movie. If you want to learn more about the movie, then this is the only place to go. One good thing to say about this is that most “straight-to-DVD” movies don’t have any “extras” at all. So nice to see at least this on here.


I can only recommend renting this for hardcore Wesley Snipes fans. However, Snipes has been in better action movies. So I can’t really recommend purchasing, unless you must have EVERY Wesley Snipes film in your collection. It is a decent rental for action fans, but if you happen to skip over it then you won’t lose much sleep. Although, it could be worth watching to see the potential of a rising British actress in the young Eliza Hope Bennett.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Contractor
(OUT OF 10)