My review (may contain spoilers)
Just got done watching it, and I have to say that (given all the bad press it's been given) I was actually pleasantly surprised with this movie.
Seagal is as stoic as ever (although he does seem impassioned in his dialogue, despite his slow delivery) as ex C.I.A operative john Harmon. His character seems like an off-shoot of Jonathan Cold (more 'The Foreigner' than 'Black Dawn' though) as an ex - operative, lured back into taking out an Islamic terrorist, who is brokering a deal with Mexican Gangsters in Istanbul (?) for safe passage into the U.S. in order to activate (previously planted) 'cells'
As part of a 3 person team, Harmon utilises technology and surveillance to play both fractions off against one another. When given an eleventh hour change in plan by his handlers, Harmon disobeys orders and together with his team, take the fight to the badguys on the night of their meeting.
Despite a rather talky start, the movie moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and is pretty much non-stop carnage, for the final third of the movie. However, the action is rather low-key (so no huge set pieces) but about 2 or 3 explosions, a brief car chase, multiple shoot-outs and about 5 or 6 fight scenes for Seagal. The quick cut editing is on display (as per usual) but there's a few longer shots of Seagal dishing out punishment. He bends a lot of arms (no snaps though) flips a few guys over, kicks a couple, punches most of them, crunches one guys head open with a metal pole (ouch!) and shoots the rest (although, to be fair.....Seagal doesn't actually shoot too many people, preferring to actually fight them.....which may please those sick of the over-reliance on gunplay in previous movies?)
For a lower end DTV movie, it looks pretty polished. As previously stated, there's no big set pieces, but the cinematography is crisp, and the locations colourful enough. The green screen employed in the car chase actually look stylish. The editing is good (although erratic during fight scenes) and the soundtrack has a cinematic feel to it.
Seagal (as with 'End Of A Gun') is extremely profane throughout this. At one poinr, whilst giving a briefing to his team, he likens the mess of a mission to (quote) "A monkey trying to f**k a football" (which not only raised a wry smile from myself....but also to the actual characters he said it to) As previously stated, Seagal isn't so much as 'quiet' in this movie.....but speaks very slowly. Which is just as well, because most of his dialogue consists of abbreviations for various law enforcement agencies and terrorist groups. The first third of the movie is very dialogue heavy....and if you're willing to endure a bit more exposition than usual, there's a pretty good thriller for the remaining hour.
The other performers are competent enough (no one embarrasses themselves, I guess) and Seagal's team also kick a lot of ass also (but not as much as the big guy)
Whilst not perfect, Contract To Kill is a competent enough thriller. The problem being that it's marketed as an 'Action' movie. If it was sold as a thriller, it would be an action-packed thriller. But sold as an action movie, it probably doesn't have enough "kiss kiss bang bang" for jaded millenial audiences. It's problem might be that (even for a Steven Seagal movie) it's actually (scarily) plausible?
Playing like a downscalled 20 minute 'Mission Impossible' segment, Contract To Kill isn't likely to convert any new fans (and I get sick of typing that with every new release) but I do think the recent bad reviews it's recieved have been rather unjust. It's pretty complex, but not at the expense of 'filler plot & characters'
Had the exact same movie starred a bunch of A-listers....I'd wager critics would probably praise it. Unfortunately, critics seem to expect every new Seagal movie (however low-budget) to be 'Under Siege' (and quite frankly those days, not to mention 'budgets' have gone, I'm afraid)
Whilst it could be a little less talky.....Contract To Kill is no worse than the recent 'Spooks' movie (which got rave reviews and probably cost ten times as much) Fans of Seagal would do well, to ignore the negativity of the critics (let's face it, they pretty much slammed all his earlier movies as well) and give this movie a chance. The key to enjoy recent Seagal movies is to like them for what they are (and not for what they aren't)