Supposing you haven’t seen anything Sylvester Stallone has starred in for the last twenty years, or any superhero movie ever, you might find something worthwhile in Samaritan.
A young boy named Sam has been raised believing two super strong brothers had fought for justice in Granite City. But the two brothers, Samaritan and Nemesis, had fought over differing ideals, and supposedly perished…
Directed by Julius Avery (Overlord, a Nazi-WW2-horror flick) and starring Sylvester “I’m Too Old for This S#@!” Stallone, comes this Amazon Video movie about hidden superheroes in an American urban jungle.
Now, you could say we are very, very saturated in superhero movies now. We’ve had everything, from very adult themed superhero movies (Kick-Ass, Super, Watchmen) to the endless MCU movies from Disney and Marvel, independent movies like Unbreakable, Chronicle, Hancock, this year even saw superhero pets getting a movie. We’ve had three origins for Spider-Man and six different people playing (and this is only live action iterations) of Batman in the last thirty years. Be honest, watching the trailer for Sylvester Stallone playing “generic strong-man superhero” is similar to watching the last, sad, tired horse cross the line in a race. He even stars in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies already!
But… with the likes of the MCU beating us over the head with superhero movies, sometimes these edge cases can give some life, some creativity, some old school flair that had been forgotten. We should give it a chance.
The film follows Sam, a street-smart kid who looks after his mother as much as she looks after him, getting what money they can to pay the rent. The city is quietly divided between those who believe in the legend of Samaritan, the hero, and Nemesis, his wayward but justice-seeking brother. Most of the run time is Sam trying to uncover where Samaritan is, and befriending Joe (Stallone) who shows signs of fitting the bill.
Samaritan is perhaps one of the most generic superhero films of the modern age of superhero films. Gritty, dilapidated city? Check. Struggling populous without hope? Check. Villain is riling up the masses into angry mob anarchy? Check.
It is a drab, unmemorable affair, with Stallone moping around like he did in Balboa, or the Creed films, acting all coy about what he really is capable of. Javon Walton plays Sam, the kid who seems to fall into plot conveniences with startling regularity, and is a massive Samaritan fan.
Indeed, perhaps the more memorable parts of the movie are when it awkwardly tries to justify its continuance. Sam is convinced by a friend to go meet with gang members, despite vocalizing he did not want to. Perhaps a minute later, things escalate badly, Sam’s friend backs out of the situation but Sam (the one who didn’t want to go in the first place) joins the gang. What?
Or, when Sam insists he and his mother escape certain doom as quickly as possible, hearing gunfire and worse, they decide to just hang around until the lead villain (the only one who could identify them by sight alone) sees them. Sigh.
But let’s not get into rabbit holes.
If you watch Samaritan, there should be a point when you consider an interesting plot twist they could do, which would redeem the entire movie. Well, it happens, actually. Unfortunately, that means the one saving grace this film has, is actually very predictable.
It isn’t going light the world on fire. Perhaps if this had been released over twenty years ago it might have gotten a sequel of some sort. But if you have free time or want some noise on in the background, or really enjoy Stallone’s grumpy old man persona, there could be worse options?