Credibility never dies with a dramatic flourish; it fades away with a quiet and pathetic whimper…
Contracts which just had its world premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival actually does have one or two things going for it…if it were a feature length student film, instead it’s just a narrative mess that never should have been programmed in the first place.
In Contracts it’s kill or be killed as a team of assassins that is led by a militant extremist is set on a path of carnage against a killer with unmatched skills.
To be fair, this feature debut from writer/director Alex Chung (a career stunt coordinator) actually looks OK as it’s reasonably well shot with some clean yet simple production design around a myriad of fight sequences but it’s just far too padded out with a thread bare story and characters that don’t have any kind of emotional development to them.
Yeah, the fight scenes look OK in short bursts, but when stretched out to the point of boredom they lose all meaning and significance and it just feels like we’re watching a bunch of clips from other action movies on YouTube all glued together.
Borrowing lines and tropes from films that have inspired them is just lazy and with delivery from actors that could only be described as ‘wooden’ this was quite possibly the longest 75 minutes of this critics entire life. It’s trying to mash in elements of Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, The Raid & The Purge and it never works from beginning to end.
Ultimately this is an amateurish piece of filmmaking, taking a premise for what could have been an interesting little 12 minute short film and pushing it out into a feature length mess. There’s more natural entertainment value in watching paint dry then trying to validate that anything in this feature outing actually makes any sense. It could have been a fun demo reel or even short film, but even in the most ridiculous of action movies, the story has always and WILL always have to come first. Instead this just mashes up things that have come before it and hopes that it works.
We would normally give a star rating to every film that crosses our desk here at In The Seats, but we can’t as Contracts has inspired a mercy rule. There is some talent in the team behind Contracts which can’t entirely be discounted in something that is essentially a ‘no budget’ film, but they just weren’t ready for this stage. The team at Toronto After Dark has actually done these filmmakers a disservice by playing them, and they honestly should have known better.
Anyone can make and submit a film to a festival these days, but it’s incumbent on the festival to be sure that any given film belongs in their lineup and it’s just not responsible to the film community that they have to co-exist in.