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Contract To Kill (Blu-ray Review)

Contract-To-KillEveryone’s favorite past his prime, lazy, slow-footed, washed up, overweight action hero is back!  And make no mistake, I say this with great admiration and appreciation.  Steven Seagal is back to his old antics in Contract To Kill.  While no, his films could be considered bottom of the barrel (And they are), sometimes these things can hit the money in terms of schlock, unintentional hilarity or just straight up easy to watch action junk.  Contract To Kill is currently playing OnDemand.  On February 28th, you’ll be able to own the adventure on Blu-ray (With a digital copy of it to boot) which includes a Making Of Featurette.  Get your Amazon pre-order (Link at the bottom) in to keep your Steven Seagal collection up to date and complete.

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Film 

A government enforcer is investigating a terrorist plot that leads him and his team to Istanbul. There, they uncover an extremist plan to use drug-smuggling routes to bring deadly weapons — and leaders — into the U.S. To prevent an attack on America, Harmon must turn these two savage forces against one another before his time — and luck — runs out.

Steven Seagal reunites with the director of the last film of his I covered, End of A Gun for Contract To Kill.  And honestly, I couldn’t tell.  I found this one, mainly from a technical aspect, to be a vast improvement over that one.  This makes better use of the camera and is not obsessed with cutting every 2 seconds or shaking the shit out of scene to get away with its cheapness.  You’re allowed to see everything and appreciate what choreography there is at play.  Its bodes much better for Seagal himself, while not going to make anyone think “he’s back” with this, but from an action perspective, makes it good enough to go with the flow.

Where I also found this one to be fine was the sheer complete simplicity of its script that also felt like it was so smart it was trying to teach us some lesson.  It almost feels like Neil Breen wrote the original draft of the screenplay and then what we got was a couple rewrites later by professionals.  Yes, I honestly felt this was very Neil Breen-ish.  If only Seagal could have been eating tuna out of a can while working on 2 laptops in one scene of the film it’d been perfect.

Contract To Kill was on the better side of entertaining trashy straight to video Steven Seagal films for me.  Take from that what you will.  Its got a plot that’s really dumbed down and easy to follow with a mix of some okay, easy to visually follow action sequences thrown in with some snicker-worthy moments of unintentional humor.  Its mostly what you’re looking for in something like this.  Nope, its not high art, nor is it very good, but for the brief time it played, I wasn’t hating myself.  If that’s the kinda backhanded praise Contract to Kill is going to get, then take from that what you will.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail:  Contract to Kill has a pretty crisp, clean image with good detail.  The sharp image manages to find itself showing wetness on stone stairs, marble patterns on walls, dirt on tile floor and other little precise details in th image.  Wood grains show well and so does rust on cars.  Overall, its pretty much your standard, very good digital image.

Depth:  Solid spacing here, nothing to wow, but there is a good deal of foreground/background camera movments and the like that showcase good distance and depth between characters and the like.  Movements at frantic times can prove a little too jittery and choppy.

Black Levels:  Blacks find themselves deep, yet pretty well defined.  You can see fingerprints on some dark surfaces and make out textures pretty good on dark uniforms in some medium shots.  No crushing witnessed during this review.

Color Reproduction:  While the film is a bunch of normal and boring blacks and browns, some colors pop out pretty good at times.  There is a yellow car that pops as well as a tel jacket.  In one scene a thug is wearing a green shirt with and orange neck ring and cuffs that makes for a good standout.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and with a hint of warmth and maintain their appearance consistently throughout the film.  Facial details, like Seagals overtanned and kinda freckled skin, cuts, dried blood, stubble, wrinkles and the like show good in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Contract to Kill hits Blu-ray with a booming 5.1 mix.  I’ll talk in the LFE section, but this is a bass heavy mix, but bodes well for the action.  Effects are nice and loud, prominent in this mix feeling layered with plenty of depth.  While it is a loud track, the vocals, effects and score manage to never step on one another’s toes or feel a bit wildly out of place.  The sound effects feel a hair over the top loud, but I kind of enjoyed the movie for being that way.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: This is a very bass-y and subwoofer heavy mix.  The score hums and rumbles along throughout the film.  Explosions, gunfire, engines, crashing, punches and the like boom and bound your room with great impact.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Its a front heavy track, but does manage to include the rear channels when perfectly applicable rather than forcing it.  Action traveling and and positioning of sound feels decently accurate to onscreen events.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are very loud, clear and feature and good amount of detail on the diction from the characters.

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Extras 

Contract To Kill comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

The Making of Contract To Kill (HD, 14:46) – The director tells how Steven Seagal wanted to craft a Yojimbo style story with Cartels.  The 2nd unit director feels this is “throwback Seagal”. Features interviews with cast and crew while showing some on-set footage and rehearsals.  Some of the people crack me up with how deep they are taking this material, but more power to them.

Contract To Kill Trailer (HD, 2:04) 

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Summary 

Contract to Kill is pretty much your typical modern Steven Seagal action trash like we’ve been getting for years now.  And its on the better side of that. Either you understand what that is or not.  The film both looks and sound good here and you even get a little “Making Of” so you’re not in the dark with bonus material.  Those purchasing this know who you are.  For all others or the uninitiated when it comes the cinema de Seagal de Steven, rent this or don’t even bother.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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