The superhero genre is already packed full of films suitable for all ages and desires, so what is one more added to the mix? Samaritan stars Sylvester Stallone as a former superhero known as Samaritan who protected Granite City, before an ill-fated showdown with his evil brother Nemesis led to his death and the disappearance of Samaritan. That is until Sam (Javon Walton) puts two and two together, and realises that Joe Smith (Stallone) and Samaritan are one and the same.
Samaritan takes inspiration from many other superhero films, but this feels very much like a dialled down version of The Dark Knight Rises. Stallone’s retired Samaritan is hiding in plain sight as a local garbage man who also repairs old pieces of junk and sells it to the nearby pawn shop, but his weary eyes and rugged looks hide a man wanting to let loose on the criminal’s and gangs who have taken over his city. One such type is Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) — an uncharismatic bore who has somehow risen through the ranks of Granite City’s criminal underbelly to become the top dog. The writing is hardly deep, and most of the plot points are delivered squarely on the nose. Stallone channels both Rocky and Rambo to make an interesting but unexplored superhero, while Asbæk relies on cool hair and tattoos to make sure you know he’s in charge.
The action scenes are reasonably well shot, and director Julius Avery (Overlord) has visual flair, but fails to bring any meaning to the fights. The budget seems to fall off a cliff about half way through the film, when anything needing a touch of CGI looks like it was created by a drunk chimp. In fact, the whole film wobbles from one scene to the next. The opening sets up the history of our hero in a nice animated opening, and Granite City feels like a lived-in world with Stallone making the most of a basic script with no character development. The villain has no real reason to do what he is doing, and there is little explanation as to why he holds such power over the city. It kind of feels like an early 2000s superhero film where things were done because they look or sound cool.
Samaritan very much has the tone of a pre Iron Man Marvel film. It just exists because these type of films are popular now and anyone can make one, even on a limited budget. But to make it successful in among the deluge of Marvel and DC films, you need to have something to say other than just being another good vs evil film. Sadly, Samaritan is sorely lacking and not even Stallone’s honest performance can save it.
Samaritan is available from 26 August on Prime Video.
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