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Derrick Dunn

Stallone fly high in decent superhero flick Samaritan

Director Julius Avery teams up with action legend Sylvester Stallone and ventures into the world of superheroes for his third effort in Samaritan from Amazon. Thirteen-year-old Sam Cleary (Javon “Wanna” Walton) suspects that his mysterious and reclusive neighbor Mr. Smith (Sylvester Stallone), is actually a legend hiding in plain sight.

Twenty years ago, Granite City’s super-powered vigilante, Samaritan, was reported dead after a fiery warehouse battle with his rival, Nemesis. Most believe Samaritan perished in the fire, but some in the city, like Sam, have hope that he is still alive. Crime is rising, and the city is on the brink of chaos. Sam makes it his mission to coax his neighbor out of hiding to save the community from ruin.

Stallone is no stranger to superhero films, having first appeared in 1995’s failed comic book adaptation of Judge Dredd. Recent years saw Stallone make supporting appearances in properties for both DC and Marvel comics. In the MCU, Stallone had the role of Stakar Ogord. Regarding the DC universe, Stallone was the voice of King Shark in last summer’s The Suicide Squad.

I think it was a wise choice for Stallone to headline a new superhero story instead of an established property. That said, viewers expecting a nonstop action fest should know the film is a slow burn. Stallone brings his usual wise old man persona to the role of Joe/Samaritan. The scenes with Sam and Joe bonding are where the film’s heart truly lies.

That said, maybe I’m experiencing superhero genre fatigue. There seems to be a new superhero film, a brand-new series, almost every month, which raises the question; does this film know how to add something to the genre instead of doing nothing creative? You can answer this question with either yes or no.

Although Samaritan is a genre movie, it feels very different from many other movies. However, at the same time, it also follows many of the same stereotypes as other genre movies. As far as the director’s style and approach are concerned, you could say he is original. However, the way the film is put together may not leave a positive impression on some. I think the most significant criticism of this movie is that it doesn’t do anything original with its story. I can’t say that the superheroes who play a role in this movie are capable of bringing something novel to the storyline.

Having seen their previous work, the vital supporting castmates in the film, particularly Dascha Polanco as Sam’s mom and Pilou Asbæk as the villain, do nothing more than tap into the character templates a movie like this requires. Furthermore, the villain’s cronies are all weakly written characters and have laughable dialogue delivery.

Honestly, it seems like the film’s writer Bragi F. Schut revisited the screenplay after writing it years earlier. Schut’s specialty is episodic series, with his only previous feature credit being last summer’s Escape Room sequel. One thing that particularly bugged me was the casting of Shameik Moore, which ends up being nothing more than a dialogue-free cameo. However, I will give him credit for a twist in the third act that I didn’t see coming.

Samaritan isn’t necessarily a bad movie, just an uninspired one that doesn’t merit a revisit.

Final Grade: C

Samaritan is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.

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