THE CONTRACT (2016)

2 out of 10

Release Date: 16th January 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nic Auerbach (The Big I Am)

Cast: Robert Fucilla, Danny Webb, Sarah Armstrong, Jonathan Rhodes, Jody Halse, Jack Brady, Dean Bardini, John Davis, Isabelle Allen with Nicky Evans and Patrick Ryecart

Writer: Bo Bickle & David Marconi

Trailer: THE CONTRACT

official-poster

The Contract sees the return of no-budget cinema’s Little Bighorn aka Robert Fucilla (MERCENARIES). He’s the London financier that bought himself an acting career but forgot to actually buy any lessons. He’s been away from the spotlight for a few years now and based on the evidence here, he hasn’t been practicing his acting skills anywhere near as much as he should have been. If anything, the break has caused him to present his worst performance to date. At best Robert Fucilla is a bland try-hard. Here he’s expected to be a figurehead of our sympathy as he tries to navigate the worst day of his life. If only the writers had given him a character with half a brain.

By contrast the wonderful Danny Webb (ALIEN 3) plays the bad guy. It’s almost as if he got tired of playing puffed-up walk in roles in real films and he wanted to find a role where he could shout and scream every line. Sadly, the film is badly written, plotted by amnesiacs and about as entertaining as being duffed up by flatulent old people.

So to the bat shit stupid plot – billionaire (ROBERT FUCILLA) turns up at his mansion to find out that it’s been overrun with squatters. One of the new residents is an amnesiac (SARAH ARMSTRONG) who’s on the run because she’s stolen some cash from her boss. Coincidentally, the money transpires to be a down payment for an assassination. Who’s the target? Who’s the killer? Who’s ordered the contract? Who farted?

Less baggy but way less fun than the hard going the director Nic Auerbach’s  The Big I Am, this staggers from scene to scene like a drunk. Annoyingly our main characters are the type of people who put themselves in harm’s way as they are escaping. As small as Fucilla is, he’s crap at hide and seek in this film. He who could hide safely behind a pot noodle  yet he keeps on getting caught and escaping repeatedly from the baddies. Danny Webb is holding Sarah Armstrong’s daughter and him and his gang act like a low-rent tribute to Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth from Blue Velvet. Danny Webb even has a penchant for playing back messages on his phone again and again, a little like Booth’s love of dictaphones. Unfortunately, most films like this are wrapped up in about 75 minutes. The Contract is nearly 100 minutes long. In a few words it was really too much to ask anybody to sit through this boring shite for that long.

With a few more pounds to spend than your average non-film, The Contract still manages to look and feel like amateur hour and that’s largely down to casting Robert Fucilla in a lead that’s expected to carry the whole film on his back. He just looks vexed, foxed, he hits’ things and shouts FUCK a lot. Next time he’s got to spend his millions on a script writer and three years at a theatre school for gnomes who like hair gel.

2 out of 10 – Fucilla, you suck. He’s so wooden he could play the titular scare donor in Robert The Doll 3.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “THE CONTRACT (2016)

  1. Review by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

    What did the banks learn from the Great Global Banking Crisis of 2007-08? As far as I can see it was ‘ignore it, blame the poor, carry on like nothing happened’. But what does this have to do with THE CONTRACT? Well, it’s a thriller about a banker and some poor people, so maybe it’ll bring the issue to exciting dramatic life? And it might have done, seeing as it’s the latest from ex-banker-turned-movie-mogul Robert Fucilla. But Fucilla is to film-making what Lehman Brothers was to mortgages, and now it looks like Fucilla, having bankrupted the world (in real life), is now destabilising the film industry with this vanity project. (Alternatively: having seen the misery caused by the financial meltdown, nice Robert Fucilla has rejected the world of greed and gain, and followed his muse into the magical, empowering world of the movies. Take your pick.).

    Gangsters raid a pub and shoot someone for some unexplained reason. A woman – Sophie Anderson – flees the scene, pursued by hoodlums. So far everything looks like it’s filmed on a phone, but then there’s a bit which probably swallowed the whole budget: a big car crash. Our heroine emerges from the wreckage looking mildly perplexed. ‘Amnesia!’ I yelled at the screen, jokingly. Alas, I was right. Fortunately she’s covered in tattoos so she starts reading herself, and somehow all the names, addresses, quotes, mottos, clues, quiz answers and shopping lists lead her to Robert Fucilla. (Yes it’s an idea from MEMENTO but as Malcolm Hulke said ‘all you need is an original idea – it doesn’t need to be your original idea’).

    So how does Fucilla appear? Does he play a hapless hobo? Or a millionaire with a private jet, playboy palace, a (probably) expensive suit, and a holier-than-thou attitude to those less rich than him? Yes, Fucilla plays to his ‘strengths’, creating a fictional version of (presumably) himself, so it’s dismaying/enlightening to find him so ill-assured, bland, and visibly attempting to absent himself from the screen – he even spends some time hiding behind a bin.

    Anderson arrives at Fucilla’s place: a vast mansion, overrun by squatters. Here, two worlds collide: the have and the have-nots. Who is right and wrong? Who is greedy and who the victim? Obviously, the squatters are wrong, they’re easily corrupted lazy scroungers and it’s a scandal the law protects them, whilst the banker is hard-working, dedicated, honest, and has never profited from anyone losing their job or home. Honest. Well, what did you expect? Nuance?

    The squatters are easily bribed back onto the streets, and Fucilla and Armstrong (whose lack of chemistry is so total they may as well be from different species) are chased by sweary gangsters and wind up in the domain of psychopath Danny Webb. After that it becomes a blur – lots of shouting, some torture-porn and a general feeling that the film might go on forever.

    Maybe Fucilla’s original plan was to show that bankers do good work and that ignoramuses like me who blame all the world’s ills on people like him are sorely mistaken. Except ultimately the film’s villains are dodgy bankers and the root of the

    trouble is a dodgy contract (which means the film’s title relates to an actual business contract and isn’t a euphemism for hiring an assassin). (It’s a better title (though less apt) than the original title Squat (can’t think why they changed that) (can’t believe they actually used it as a working title though). But that original title hints at what the film’s original focus was: either Mr Fucilla’s shortness of stature, or the whole house-invaded-by-homeless-people-idea which ends up being little more than a distraction.) Ultimately the film merely helps to confirm my ill-informed rants against the corporate greed monster.

    But no matter! Instead of making an earnest polemic on the necessity of taking stupid risks with other people’s money, Fucilla aims to give us a high octane thriller, an exciting roller coaster ride of tension and action. And fails spectacularly. Instead he produces an enervating, tedious, flaccidly ghoulish goulash of amateurishness, laziness, poorly conceived scenes, and badly acted characters (whose limited vocabulary is even more limited than usual for a gangster film). The film’s humourlessness is mind-numbing were it not for the unintended humour of its execution. Meanwhile, most of the actors look like they’ve never acted before. Thankfully, Danny Webb is clearly enjoying himself, but it’s also obvious he knows this is utter bilge and has no interest in dignifying it with a decent performance. He took the money and had fun and fair enough (at least, I hope he was paid). And he managed it all whilst sporting ‘evil scar’ make-up.

    I’m not saying Fucilla should have made a film about either banking or homelessness necessarily. But, seeing as THE CONTRACT uses those two things as launch pads, it seems perverse to then ignore them. And just as Fucilla’s character remains ignorant of his failings, the film itself is ignorant of its own thematic structure: it should be a morality tale but no-one told the writer. So, surprisingly, THE CONTRACT accurately mirrors the way the financial industries have pretty much ignored their own crisis by ignoring its own story.

    Fucilla’s earlier THE BIG I AM (which he produced and almost starred in before being relegated to a minor supporting role) was a much more professional job, despite still being pretty poor. THE CONTRACT is a massive step backwards. I say the following not in a spirit of contempt or derision, but in a genuine attempt at altruism: Mr Fucilla, you are a poor actor who should seriously reconsider your dream, or at least pay to go to RADA for a couple of decades; as a producer you seem to be getting worse, maybe you should ask Paul Tanter for advice. But more than all that Mr Fucilla, I beg you, return to the world of hedge funds or whatever it is you made your millions in (even if the Bank Crash was your fault).

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