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The Contractor 4k Blu-ray Review: Can Decent Sound & High Bitrates Save This Cliche “Black Ops” Thriller?

The Contractor 4k Blu-rayPreviously released to theaters and digital on April 1st, Paramount Home Media Distribution packaged The Contractor on Blu-ray, 4k Blu-ray, and DVD for release on June 7, 2022. The 4k Blu-ray and Blu-ray editions each include one disc and a code to redeem a Digital Copy from iTunes or Vudu via ParamountMovies.com.


We’ve seen this story before. A man devotes himself to military service but is eventually let down by that service. The man then finds “alternative work” in a secretive government agency, but is doublecrossed by that agency, even to the point of an attempt on his life. Then, it’s all about survival and revenge through a plotline we’ve watched numerous times. Even the camera shots and music composition are cliché in this dark thriller directed by Tarik Saleh. 

Chris Pine plays James Harper, a dedicated Army serviceman who gets involuntarily discharged for using an illegal substance to treat a knee injury. The beginning of the film spends quite a bit of time building empathy for Harper who is trying to cope with PTSD along with the loss of his job and benefits. 

At about 23 minutes, he takes a job with a black ops group after meeting military veteran Rusty (Kiefer Sutherland) through a mutual friend named Mike (Ben Foster). He joins a team that supposedly operates under secret presidential authority and Title 50. His first job takes him to Berlin, and it isn’t until about 36 minutes into the movie that any action starts. But, at least once the action starts it doesn’t stop. 
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On 4k Blu-ray, The Contractor is presented in 2160p with HDR10. That’s the less-sophisticated HDR format (Dolby Vision and HDR10+ can change dynamically from scene to scene) but nevertheless expands the color depth to 10 bits on HDR TVs. The video played at very high bitrates, averaging in the high 70s to mid-80s for much of the film. At one point, we noticed the bitrate jumped to 92.9Mbps. 

Much of the action in the film takes place in sewers and canals (hope that’s not too much of a spoiler), which by nature are extremely dark. But, in the right home theater setting the details in shadow areas hold up well and not much is lost. The video image is decent quality with a usually sharp 4k image even on a 75” TV, although much of the sharpness is lost in fast-moving scenes.

Night and low-light scenes reveal minimal grain, while some of the daylight shots look a lot less dramatic, even low-budget at times when the sunlight seems too harsh for the scene. But overall the video in The Contractor is what you would expect from a film of this genre, akin to movies such as Shooter, the Bourne franchise films, and series like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
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The soundtrack to The Contractor is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel with subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish. Most newer 4k Blu-rays feature Dolby Atmos, but this 7.1 track has a good frontal approach with some multi-speaker effects that make it a worthy listen. The 48kHz audio typically streamed at around 4.8 – 5.2Mbps.

The gun battle at 45 minutes offers some really good spatial effects with bullets sounding as if they are passing right by your head. The ensuing chase by German police officers and helicopters also provides a good amount of atmospheric audio as Harper makes his getaway. And, the final shootout (we all knew it was coming) has some good surround sound as well, with occasional low-frequency boosts from explosions.  
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The Contractor is not the most rewarding in terms of its dark storyline. It’s about a hero that risks his life for his country but is thrown away like an old piece of equipment. It’s also a redundant contribution to the genre that has been found to be inaccurate in many respects. But the 4k Blu-ray and 4k digital experiences offer some visual and audio intrigue that will likely keep viewers watching from beginning to end. Don’t expect much, and you might actually enjoy some portions of this thriller that has some good action sequences, stuntwork, and cinematography. 





Bonus Material

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