The Contractor Ending, Explained: Is Mike Dead or Alive?

‘The Contractor’ is an action thriller film that tells the story of Special Forces Sergeant James Harper (Chris Pine), who gets honorably but involuntarily discharged from the military. Because of his exemplary record, he gets heavily recruited by the private sector. He eventually chooses to work for the same firm his friend Mike (Ben Foster) is employed at.

James’ new boss, Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland), seems to say all the right things. However, during James’ first mission with the company in Berlin, things suddenly turn for the worse, and he is forced to go on the run. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘The Contractor.’ SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Contractor Plot Synopsis

James is a career soldier and doesn’t know much about life beyond the military. His father had been in the military before him. The years of combat and pain changed the man beyond recognition. He was abusive towards James and left him with scars that are yet to heal. James has resolved that he will never turn into his father, but the years of combat and pain are starting to catch up to him as well. His wife, Brianne (Gillian Jacobs), worries about him. She has her own emotional issues. They are a military family. All of their friends are soldiers and their families. Over the years, they have lost so many friends that Brianne has become traumatized by it.

James has been on four combat tours in the last five years and is undergoing rehab. He takes a concoction of drugs to deal with his knee issue, which ultimately leads to his discharge. The new commanding officer of James’ unit brusquely informs him that his latest drug result has come back “filthy.” Even though James gets honorably discharged, it is still not his choice. Moreover, he loses his pension and healthcare. Debts and other financial issues were already mounting before this for James and his family. With these new developments, they are virtually buried. However, James has certain options still available to him.

Due to his stellar record, the private sector starts calling him immediately after his discharge, but the last thing that James wants to do is to babysit a celebrity. So, he deletes all their calls. While attending the funeral of a friend and colleague, James runs into Mike. This is Pine and Foster’s first film together since ‘Hell on High Water,’ and the chemistry is instantaneous. James and Mike have served together. The latter invites James to his home, and after arriving there, James realizes that Mike has done well for himself. He learns that Mike is in the private sector and asks him to set up a meeting with his boss.

Rusty tells James that they do contract work for the government, which perfectly fits what a man like James wants. He doesn’t realize that Rusty is manipulating him. He is subsequently sent to Berlin to do surveillance work on a Harvard-educated scientist with alleged links to Al-Qaeda and Syria. After Mike and others arrive, they are tasked to retrieve information about the scientist’s research from the lab.

During the operation, the police get notified. New orders come from Rusty, instructing James and the rest of the unit to burn everything. The scientist, Salim Mohamed Mohsin (Fares Fares), keeps claiming what they are developing at the lab is for the betterment of humanity. But still, James follows the orders he was given and ensures the other man’s death.

However, as they come out of the facility, the police arrive and take down most of James’ comrades. He is able to hide with Mike and saves the latter’s life. After his knee starts acting up again, James sends his friend ahead but soon comes to believe that Rusty’s people have killed Mike. The incident at the lab becomes an international fiasco, especially with several police officers dead, prompting James to hide from both the German police and his former colleagues.

The Contractor Ending: Is Mike Dead?

After returning to the US, he goes to tell Mike’s wife what has happened and discovers that his friend is alive. He later confronts Mike and learns that the latter was told that he died. However, he knew the truth about the mission. He knew that Salim had actually developed a vaccine for the H5N1 virus. Their clients are planning to release the disease, intending to make billions from it by monopolizing its cure. Mike eventually agrees to accompany James as the latter goes to take down Rusty. In the ensuing gunfight, Mike gets mortally wounded. James kills Rusty before leaving with Mike in a car. After Mike dies, James sets the vehicle on fire and leaves, erasing the evidence of him being there.

Does James Reunite with His Family?

Yes, James reunites with his family. In the end sequence, James watches his family from a distance. It seems that the $50,000 he received before the job has been used well. The audience is briefly led to believe that James will not make his presence known to his family and leave. However, in the final scene, James calls out to his son Jack as the camera focuses on the latter. He likely has realized the possibility that there are people who know what he has done, and they might come after him. By contacting his family, he has exposed them to the threat. This means that all members of the Harper family will now have to go into hiding.

Read More: Is The Contractor Based on a True Story?