Cold-blooded professional assassin Coburn accepts a contract to murder three people in Europe for his mysterious client, Meredith. Arriving in Spain, Coburn meets a group of rich travelers led by twice-divorced socialite Remick, whose main purpose in life is to amuse herself. Among her
party are Palmer, Magee, and Dauphin, each representing a different aspect of complacent, pathetic bourgeois society. Captivated by the strangely distant and furtive Coburn, Remick pursues him. This proves difficult because Coburn, in keeping with his unemotional and detached demeanor, satisfies
his sexual needs only in the company of prostitutes. Remick overcomes this obstacle and begins an affair with the killer that softens both of these basically callous people. Meanwhile, Coburn has eliminated the first victim on his hit list, and, after another tryst with Remick in Tangiers, he
travels to Brussels to fulfill the second part of his contract. Things change, however, when he finds that killing isn't as easy for him as it used to be. With trembling hands, he eliminates his next victim, but for the first time in his life, Coburn has second thoughts about his career. Finally,
Coburn learns the identity of his third victim and is disturbed to discover that the doomed man is Hayden, a fellow assassin who has retired with his family in Madrid. Depressed and in need of companionship, Coburn sends for Remick. While waiting in a hotel lobby, Coburn is shocked to see Hayden,
who senses who Coburn is and why he has come. Shaken, Coburn doubts that he can complete his job. Realizing that he's losing his assassin, Meredith arrives in Spain to ensure that the hit will be completed. Countering this move, Hayden invites all concerned to his home, where, during a
conversation with Coburn, he says he has become fed up with killing and could never pull the trigger again. Sympathetic to Hayden, in love with Remick, but still obligated to Meredith, Coburn desperately tries to resurrect his cold killer's instinct. At the last moment, however, his new values
overcome the killer in him. Coburn takes Remick and disappears, well aware that someday another assassin will come for him.
While the moralistic message of HARD CONTRACT may lack subtlety, the film is saved by the performances. Coburn is convincing as the killer who undergoes a spiritual rebirth, bringing a tragic but hopeful air to his character. Remick is fine as the bored socialite, Meredith's portrayal is
memorable, and Hayden is as solid as ever. The European locations are used to good advantage, providing a stunning backdrop to the action.
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- Rating: PG
- Review: Cold-blooded professional assassin Coburn accepts a contract to murder three people in Europe for his mysterious client, Meredith. Arriving in Spain, Coburn meets a group of rich travelers led by twice-divorced socialite Remick, whose main purpose in life… (more)