Director: Julius Avery
Screenplay by: Bragi F. Schut
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Sophia Tatum, Moises Arias, Martin Starr and Jared Odrick
Tagline: 25 Years Ago the World’s Greatest Hero Vanished
The Overview: Beware of spoilers…
Sam (Walton) is a thirteen year old who lives with his single-parent mother (Polanco) in an apartment in a rough part of Granite City. Sam’s a latchkey kid since his mom has to put in a lot of hours at work. Sam spends a good deal of his time researching Samaritan. Samaritan was a superhero believed to have died twenty-five years ago along with the villainous Nemesis (who happened to be his twin brother!). while they were fighting in a burning building.
Sam has come to think that Joe (Stallone), a garbage man who lives in an apartment across the street is Samaritan! Despite the mounting evidence, Joe denies he’s the missing superhero. As Sam comes home one day, some gangbangers jump and begin beating him. Joe rushes to the rescue, displaying super strength as he runs off the thugs. Now Sam and Joe are in the sights of the gang led by Cyrus ( Asbæk)… who plan to kill the old man…
Sly Stallone is back! He’s excellent in the role of Joe/Samaritan and supported by a well-cast group of actors. Javon Walton is extremely likeable in the role of Sam. Often child actors have a hard time finding the balance of cute and instead come off annoying. That’s not the case with Walton. I expect big things from him in the future. Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco and Sophia Tatum are also excellent. Asbæk is a great bad guy. I’d love to see him play an anti-hero in the future. Polanco and Tatum aren’t given a lot to do, but when they’re on screen all eyes are on them. I hope to see more leading parts for them in the future. I enjoyed Julius Avery’s direction. He’s not flashy, but puts the camera in the right place to maximize drama and/or action.
If you’ve seen the Samaritan trailers, there’s a dialogue change from the trailer to the film which is great for a surprising laugh. Joe is hit by a car and left mangled in the street, he starts starts to heal and in the trailer Sam asks, “Are you okay?” Joe responds (in pain), “I’m cool.” In the film the same set-up but this time Joe’s response is, “F*** no.” I burst out laughing. That was well-played.
There’s a twist in the film that happens near the end. I won’t give it away, but will say I absolutely did not see that coming. I loved it. The twist took the story up a notch. As to the Samaritan story itself, some folks are complaining it’s too simple. I agree, it is simple, but let’s not lose sight that Samaritan is modern day mythology.
Samaritan is a tale of good vs evil. Another theme is that good and evil live can live in each of us and we have to decide which way we will go. If you’re okay with a story about super-heroes who happen to be twins… with one being good and the other being evil… that takes place in a town called Granite City… and a young boy who is searching for the missing hero and finds him living basically next door… and the missing super hero now has a job as a garbage man (a person who cleans up the city) but you want a more complex tale, you may be missing the point of the modern mythology that is being created. Or Samaritan may not be for you.
As for me, I loved the ride. At first I thought Samaritan would be a movie best loved by younger kids. But later in the film, it gets darker and then there’s the twist. I still think teenagers and adults open to this newly created mythology will enjoy Samaritan. If I was going to pick any nits, it would be the fire cgi used in the extended fight scene at the end. But why nitpick when Samaritan is such a fun time. I hope to see a sequel — it certainly opens the door for more movies or a tv series.
Samaritan earns 4 of 5 stars.