Jane is a contract killer who is framed for the murder of her husband and set up to be executed by her own agency. She goes on the run and finds out that the conspiracy goes straight to the top of the CIA.
I knew what I was getting into when the introduction trailers were for a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, a Dolph Lundgren flick and a movie called Sharks in Venice starring Stephen Baldwin. So I sat back and prepared myself for a very low brow B-movie. What I got was a low rent Bourne Identity style flick that isn’t nearly as bad as the trailers that precede it look to be.
Like the best B-level action flicks tend to do, Contract Killers starts off with a bang. Jane (Frida Farrell) is having a nice dinner with her husband. They have some small talk, including playful insults about the cheap wine, when suddenly both of them pass out, drugged. When Jane wakes up, her husband is dead with the word LISA carved into his forehead and the police, FBI and SWAT teams surround her house. Turns out Jane is a contract killer for the CIA, however when she tries to call them for help they blow her off. Apparently, they want her dead and Jane finds herself running for her life from police and other contract killers while trying to find out why she is suddenly public enemy number one.
Yes, it is a low rent Bourne’s Identity but director Justin Rhodes has a great eye and makes the film look like it was made for a lot more money than it was. It helps that he cast it with some pretty great no-name actors including Farrell who gives a decent performance as the heroine of the picture. She comes across unemotional throughout most of the movie but part of that has to do with the script. Having her have sex with a man while on the run, trying to find out who killed her loving husband, was a mistake. Thanks to scenes like that I believe she was coached in her distant personality.
Faring better is Rhett Giles as Pernell, one of the contract killers sent to kill her. While at times he comes across as a low budget Nathan Fillion (think about that for a minute), he exudes a great deal of charisma and is a highlight of the film. It’s hard to believe he cut his teeth on low budget schlock from The Asylum like Van Helsing’s Way of the Vampire and Transmorphers. Hopefully he can find a better agent and someday break out of this vicious straight to DVD cycle. Nick Mancuso and Steve Boergadine lend a bit of class to the affair as high ranking, and corrupt, CIA officials.
The script is not perfect. I already mentioned the inconsistencies of the main character but there are other areas that make no sense. If the entire plan was to execute Jane, why not just poison her instead of killing her husband and framing it on her? She seems to be the perfect agent, and goes back a long way with the conspirators, and there is no reason given why they believe they need to kill her in the first place. Finally, she is responsible for numerous murders. Why frame her for a new one when they can just pull up anything? This is a straight to DVD movie, though. Questions like these are commonplace.
Rhodes owes a lot to Paul Greengrass. Although he never apes the great director, it is clear that is where his influences lie. One of the pleasures of reviewing DVDs is discovering these little gems. It won’t set the world on fire but it is great fun and introduces me to a director that might have a bright future ahead of him. The film could have been a Jean Claude Van-Damme rip-off, with the gender roles reversed, but strove to be something more. It isn’t perfect, but I never expected it to be. I only wanted a fun ride and that is what it delivered.
The only special feature is a music video by Machel Montano featuring Shaggy. Montano is the frontman for the soca band Xtatik. Shaggy is the reggae singer. The song is Toro Toro. This video is an edited version which mixes the original video with scenes from the movie, it is not the original video for the song.