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Samaritan Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

It’s the return of Sly Stallone into the comic book world! As an elderly, embittered former superhero, he needs to overcome his past & help a kid in need!

Genre: Action / Drama / Fantasy

Director: Julius Avery

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Javon Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Sophia Tatum, Moisés Arias, Abraham Clinkscales, Jared Odrick & Martin Starr.

Run Time: 102 min.

US Release: 26 August 2022 (amazon prime)

UK Release: 26 August 2022 (amazon prime)

German Release: 26 August 2022 (amazon prime)


Julius Avery’s superhero blockbuster is a homage to the comic book adaptations of the 90s, such as Judge Dredd, The Crow, or even the first Punisher, starring Dolph Lundgren. Originally set to be released in 2020, this project kept being pushed back during the pandemic, until the acquisition of MGM by Amazon, available now on their platform. Sylvester Stallone, who starred in enough comic-book-like movies, finally gets his shot at portraying a superhero and although this was not a terrible film, it did start dragging, losing its focal point. So gather all your strength, sit down and enjoy my review for Samaritan


Twenty years ago, Granite City's super-powered vigilante Samaritan, was reported dead after an explosion during a battle at a warehouse with his brother and rival, Nemesis. A young teenager, Sam Cleary, suspects that his mysteriously reclusive neighbour Mr. Smith is the legendary hero, hiding in plain sight.

The script pays homage to the 90s era of cheesy, over-the-top, superhero pictures, comic book adaptations plus schlocky action blockbusters, embracing all its silliness. The names of the superbeings alone should give audiences an idea of what they are to expect. The script penned by Bragi F. Schut was developed into a comic series itself, published by Mythos Comics. The screenplay is pretty much straightforward, there are no figurative messages, plus the idea to create a hero who is tired of fighting injustice is pretty refreshing.


While I admire the darker, more brutal atmosphere that includes a feeling of hopelessness due to the run-down setting of Granite City, it would have served the story better had it committed fully to an R-rating. Sadly, as it stands, Samaritan is neither the one nor the other. After an intriguing first act, the pacing slows down dramatically with very little happening, other than superficial talks between the former superhero and the young main character. Instead of focusing on bad-ass action, we obtain painfully dull sequences of bus rides and exposition scenes that continually rip holes into the plot.


The dialogue itself is no better. After a fun introductory voice-over, we obtain exposition-heavy conversations, soft cursing and vocal lessons Joe teaches Sam, which sound like sentiments taken directly from a fortune cookie. I was seriously disappointed by some of the dialogue lines, having expected harder language.


Sylvester Stallone does a good job at portraying Joe, a grumpy old man living in the opposite apartment of Sam and his mother. There is a short mystery surrounding the character at the beginning that concerns if he really is who Joe suspects, yet it is resolved within minutes. Joe seems tired of the world around him; the helplessness and aggression of the people in the city are just too much for him to handle, so he doesn’t even try to help anymore. Stallone sells those moments of despair well! He also takes a little of his Balboa character, to mould his persona into a sort of mentor for the young Sam.


Sam, who is played by Javon Walton, is the central character of this blockbuster, as the audience experiences everything through his eyes. His obsession with the vanished superhero leads him to discover who his neighbour is. Sam and his mother are living in a rough neighbourhood, making just enough money to pay the rent, so it doesn’t take long for Sam to fall in with the wrong crowd, to make some extra cash. Walton has good chemistry with Stallone, as well as Polanco, however, he overcooks his acting more often than not. His line delivery is extremely cheesy and over-the-top.


Pilou Asbæk, from Game of Thrones fame, has been cast as the villain Cyrus, who is trying to bring down the city's power grid to inflict a new era of darkness. Cyrus is basically obsessed to become an improved version of the fallen villain Nemesis, which is all his motivation! He has a twisted sense of morality, believing that chaos will free humanity, although his endgame ain’t really clear. Asbæk does the best he can with what he is given, coming off as a real psychopath.


Dascha Polanco as Sam’s mother Tiffany is the moral compass of the movie. Tiffany is a single mother, trying to make ends meet as well as raising Sam with morals and values. I did like Polancos take on the character, as she is believable as a concerned, yet tough mother, trying to protect her son from bad influences.

Picture-wise, the colour palette used is intriguing, adding desaturated colours and blue tints, that compliment the atmosphere this movie was going for. As far as the fight scenes go; while there are hints of a more savage action lurking underneath, the quick cuts plus missing blood make sure of turning this into an unfortunate tame film, clashing with the tone and setting. However, the camera work is generally alright.


The costume design underlines the atmosphere of Granite City. A lot of the characters are wearing rundown jeans, jackets or hoodies. The effects, on the other hand, are a mixed bag; while some look impressive, it is the horrible de-ageing, as well as the fake-looking warehouse fire at the end, which leaves a sour tasting note.

 

Verdict: Honestly, after all the pushbacks and gossip about shelving this flick, I expected much worse. Especially since the trailers did not convince me! So I was surprised when the story hooked me at the beginning. It loses significant steam around the middle mark, focusing too much on conversations between Joe and Sam that could have been taken from any fortune cookie, as well as losing track in the action department. The blockbuster itself would have benefited from an R-rating, as much of the fighting sequences needed to be dialled down, causing some grave continuity errors. Sylvester Stallone does a good job as the embittered former superhuman, while Javon Walton plays well off Sly, but overacts too much, especially during scenes in which he should have been scared. Overall, an average superhero flick, just worth a 5.0 out of 10.


Did you manage to see Samaritan yet? What are your thoughts on Sylvester Stallone’s take on an ageing superhero? Thank you as always for your support!


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