Not bad, but most definitely not great

I’ll start with part of an interview from Danny Trejo’s bio. “It was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. I’d been in Soledad, San Quentin, Folsom, Vacaville, Susanville, Sierra — and here’s a guy asking, “Can you act like a convict?” I remember saying, I’ll give it a shot.” Danny Trejo has had quite the life compared to most people. He started off as a career criminal and now a career actor, plus he gets to work with the best in the filmmaking business (sometimes). He was in his 40’s when he got his first break in acting and has since been in over a massive 250 movies, which include 25 still to be either, shot, or finished off.

Starring in Machete was his biggest to date, but working with Mel Gibson and a whole load of other stars in Machete Kills will eclipse even that. The problem is, he isn’t very good at acting. I like Danny Trejo, no question, and when in the correct role is actually good to watch. This film didn’t exactly flatter his acting skill at all, although, seeing him beat-up two big guys was fun.

The Contractor
Directed by
Sean Olson
Danny Trejo, Christina Cox, Brad Rowe
Release Date
September 2013
Influx Grade: C-

Editor turned director Sean Olson has done not too bad in this, his debut feature, but his direction, while not inspired, was not the main problem. The story was so generic it was boring. A run-of-the-mill revenge tale that dragged on and on in this by-the-numbers movie. It lacked in any tension to be able to become involved, and I had to continually fight the urge to pick up my iPad and research The Contractor in more detail, while it was still playing.

There were some nice touches in places by Olson, where he demonstrated good skill as a director, but they stood out too much by comparison and showed the rest as rather tepid. I would like to see what Olsen could do with a budget because he most certainly has what it takes. I review loads of directorial debuts, and although this wasn’t one of the better ones, it did speak of great possibilities, so I will be keenly waiting to see what Sean Olson does next, although I don’t see anything penned in at the moment.

We have a man who has lost his son in a prison killing. He shouldn’t have been there in the first place but the prosecutor, Paul Chase, was “only doing his job,” however Javier Reyes (Trejo) doesn’t agree. He takes it upon himself to get close to the Chase family by posing as a building contractor. He can hack computers and cellphones, and is apparently a good builder too. Mmm. Elizabeth Chase (Christina Cox, Elysium) starts getting suspicious after seeing Javier spying on the family and asks husband Paul (Brad Rowe) to fire him, which he does, but Javier warns he hasn’t seen the last of him. He has planted evidence pointing at an affair by Paul and then targets the daughter.

Review by Ed Blackadder, Special to Influx Magazine