Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon “Wanna” Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Moises Arias, and Martin Starr
Director: Julius Avery
Samaritan has its moments. On one hand, it’s a refreshing take on the superhero genre that feels more like the better superhero films from the early 2000s than your typical MCU fare. On the other hand, the script is sometimes lacking, leaving the villain’s end goal, as well as the nature of his superpowers, extremely unclear. The ending also just feels too long. Even with its flaws, the cast manages to shine, especially Javon Walton and Pilou Asbæk. It’s not a waste of time, but I don’t see Samaritan getting a cult following anytime soon.
Like Spiderhead earlier this year, Samaritan feels like a miniseries that got squeezed into a feature-length runtime. The idea behind the film is an intriguing one - old hero, left his life behind, something happens to get him back in the ring; however, the execution leaves a good bit to be desired. Sylvester Stallone plays his knock-off Rocky-with-superpowers about as well as the film’s writing allows, but the rest of the supporting cast gets little to nothing interesting to do, and Javon Walton doesn’t yet have the skills to shoulder that weight. Despite the effort, it just doesn’t work.
Director Julius Avery follows up the underrated Overlord with this pedestrian and clichéd effort. Samaritan manages to be both a kids film without the childlike wonder and an action film without the brutal violence. Sure, Sylvester Stallone works in the lead role, but beyond that, there isn’t much to praise here. Neither the effects nor the supporting cast are able to elevate the film, and any surprises within the story are blatantly telegraphed in the opening minutes. This pairing of star and director, as well as the storyline, deserved better. Sadly, the execution did not meet the promise.
Have you ever played a football video game that didn’t have licensing from the NFL, so the teams are generically named something like the California Wildcats? Like… yeah, it’s football, but ehhh. That’s basically what Samaritan is. A lazy stab at a non-IP superhero movie that, honestly, doesn’t even have much superheroing. I’m admittedly a sucker for Sylvester Stallone, but Javon “Wanna” Walton, who is fantastic as Ashtray in Euphoria, is horribly miscast here. He just can’t pull off innocent precociousness. With some truly terrible dialogue and a twist I predicted in record time, Samaritan hearkens back to the superhero movie wasteland of the 90s.
The Sylvester Stallone-led superhero film Samaritan has a blatant 90s action vibe that would have benefited from more action beats to save it from being a fiery pit of disappointment. Sly isn't given the tools to pull off a movie like this because it's built on a weak script and tame story. It also doesn’t help that it has a predictable twist that you can see coming from a mile away. Don’t get me wrong, the film had potential, and if the story dug deeper into the character instead of anchoring itself to generic superhero tropes about redemption, we may have gotten a better movie.