‘The Contractor’ Ending Explained: Does James return to his family?

The Contractor Plot Synopsis

In The Contractor, Chris Pine stars as James Harper, a Special Forces Sergeant who is involuntarily discharged from service after drugs he has taken for medicinal purposes are found in his body.

Unfortunately, not only does he lose his job but he loses his pension and healthcare benefits too. Unemployed and facing financial difficulty, James decides to take on private contracting work to support himself and his family.

Who does James work for?

While attending the funeral of a former colleague, James runs into Mike (Ben Foster), an old friend and former comrade-in-arms. After their reunion, the two have dinner together and James learns of a private contracting firm that Mike is now working for.

After finding out how well Mike has done financially, he asks Mike to set up a meeting with the boss of the company, Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland). The meeting goes well and James is given the opportunity to take part in his first mission for the mercenary.

What is James’s mission?

Rusty tasks James and Mike with a mission to steal a laptop containing information about a suspected virus. While Mike is carrying out his part of the mission elsewhere, James is asked to carry out surveillance work on a middle-Eastern scientist called Salim who, according to Rusty, is supposedly developing the virus for a Syrian terrorist group.

After spying on Salim at his house, James follows the scientist to his research facility. He hears a troubling phone call between Salim and an unidentified person and reports this back to Mike. Later that night, he, Mike, and other mercenaries infiltrate the facility and interrogate Salim about what he is up to.

The scientist insists he is innocent of any wrongdoing and tells them that he is working on a vaccine for a virus and not the virus itself. But before James can get to the bottom of what is going on, Rusty calls with an update on their mission. He tells them to kill Salim, steal the data from his laptop, and burn down the facility.

Is the mission a success?

James and Mike do as requested but after making it out of the facility arrive, they get into a shootout with the police. Some of James’ team are killed but he and Mike make it to the extraction point and escape.

Unfortunately, Mike was badly injured in the previous gun battle. After finding a safe place to hide, James donates some of his blood to Mike and saves his friend’s life. As the final part of their mission, they are to go to Berlin with the secured laptop before returning back to the US to meet with Rusty.

But as James’ old knee injury is playing up, the two come up with a plan wherein Mike will go ahead with the laptop while James recuperates for a day before following on.

When James arrives in Berlin, Mike is nowhere to be seen. He calls Rusty to see if Mike has managed to make it back to the US with the laptop but Rusty tells him that Mike failed to show up. As such, their mission did not go to plan. It can be assumed that Mike is dead and that the intel he received has fallen into the hands of somebody else.

Before we or James have time to speculate on what happened to Mike, Rusty tells James to meet up with an extraction team. But when James gets to the meeting point, a hit squad arrive and tries to kill him.

After surviving the attack, James manages to interrogate a member of the squad. During the interrogation, he finds out the identity of the person who hired them to assassinate him.

Who betrayed James?

Rusty is the person who betrayed James and sent the hit squad to finish him off.

Before returning to the US, James visits Salim’s wife and finds out he was given misinformation by Rusty. It turns out that Salim really was trying to find a cure for a virus and that he wasn’t engaged in biowarfare, as James had previously been led to believe by the contractor-in-chief.

But was Rusty working alone or was Mike part of Rusty’s plan to steal the vaccine data?

This is something James is forced to consider when he returns back to the US, only to discover that Mike is still alive. However, Mike, who had been told by Rusty that James was dead, did not have anything to do with the betrayal. He did, however, have information about the mission, and that Rusty’s clients wanted to release the virus and make money from the vaccine.

On hearing this news, James decides the best course of action is to take out Rusty. He and Mike head out to the mercenary’s ranch but on arrival, a gunfight takes place. James is able to kill Rusty and his goons but Mike is injured. On the drive home, Mike sadly dies of his wounds.

Does James return to his family?

Throughout the film, we learn, through flashbacks, of James’ troubled relationship with his father. His dad was also a soldier and he suffered from PTSD because of his experiences. At some point, his dad left home, though James was never sure if he simply left to start a new life or whether he committed suicide as many ex-soldiers had done before him. Not knowing what happened, James grew up waiting for his father to return. He never did.

Towards the end of the film, James is hesitant to return to his family. This is because of the possible threat to his life from the clients that tasked Rusty with the mission to steal the scientist’s laptop. By staying away from home and going into hiding, he would protect his family from harm.

But as the film closes, James, who is watching his son from afar, calls out to him and it is assumed that he then returned to his family, presumably to make sure his son didn’t grow up without a father.


Read More: The Contractor Movie Review

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12 thoughts on “‘The Contractor’ Ending Explained: Does James return to his family?”

  1. Hi Jp. Its been a while since I saw the film but after doing a little bit of digging about online, there seems to be agreement that it is the main character’s son.I assume you’re referring to the final scene.Let me know what you think though.


  2. Does his family really get the $4 million and be able to keep it? I hated to see that the other guy (he thought was his friend) had to die. Did he really just believe James died so we went on with his life thinking at least his family was going to be taken care of? James saved his life more than once so it doesn’t look good thinking he turned his back on him. 🤷

  3. At the end, the movie left an opening for what I believe could be a possible sequel. If so it would nice if the main character was portrayed the same actor,…

  4. Agree with someone else’s comment “Strange ending – really didn’t do the movie justice.” James calls out “Jack” to his son. I understand the flashback intentions of saying, ‘I don’t want to leave you alone like my father did me,’ but does that mean that he wishes he didn’t have to, but is too afraid that he may put his family in jeopardy if he goes back? A one-second or one-scene conclusion would have been a better ending.

  5. It looked for a moment at the end that he was not going to return to his family, but then he called out his son’s name, and the son looked back at him.

  6. He went home to his family. 1) It was foreshadowed the whole film; he isn’t going to be like his delinquent father (whether he died or left); 2) He literally called the kid’s name and he turned around as a response. They built suspense for a minute, with the idea that he might not go back to his family, but of course he did.

  7. Unsure…it’s very open ended. Unsure if we will get a sequel but it would be interesting to know what happened next.

  8. Looked like his son did not respond to his Dad, James when he called to him.so I wonder if he went hOme like he wanted .

  9. I’m always for the family & I’m hopeful they are all‼️ Re-United. Mr. PINE has beautiful eyes. Wish him a long career. 💜✝️

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