Watch Samaritan on Amazon Prime Video (paid link)
Written by: Bragi F. Schut
Directed by: Julius Avery
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Martin Starr, Shameik Moore
Watch the trailer
A young boy learns that a superhero who was thought to have gone missing after an epic battle twenty years ago may in fact still be around.
I was really hoping for more out of this. Most of the movie is kid with a butt-kicking adult friend trope. The world building around the superheroes is weak. That’s unfortunate since that’s the foundation. This has a strong ending, but it doesn’t do enough to overcome the rest of the movie. This lacks a theme, or at least fails to expand on that theme.
This was originally going to release theatrically in late 2020 before being delayed to 2021, and delayed again before debuting on Amazon Prime.
I was hoping for something along the lines of Logan, but this just isn’t it. Logan explored an aging hero dealing with his mythos. The majority of this movie is a kid that wants to find or is trying to prove Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone) is a super hero that disappeared decades ago. There’s an exposition heavy introduction to lay the framework for these super heroes, but it doesn’t do enough to seem plausible. In the present day I was curious about the sentiment for superheroes. Do people remember, are there more, what do they matter now? The movie fails on the world building aspect. The movie needs to explore these questions to provide some depth. We see some super hero graffitti, but the movie doesn’t explain why. I doubt it could.
|Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Sylvester Stallone play Sam, Joe Smith|
Sam (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) just happens to live in the same complex as Joe, who he thinks used to be the super hero Samaritan. He also lives a few blocks from the expert on Samaritan and Nemesis. That’s awfully convenient, and most of this movie falls into convenient. Even this mythical hammer the movie hypes up is underwhelming.
Jake befriends the reluctant hero. Joe gets a prove it moment, but none of those moments lived up to my expectations. I like the unexpected plot developments towards the end, but it’s not enough to save the movie. It comes far too long after too many cliche moments.
The movie is inconsistent. We know Joe is super powered, but what about Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk)? He seems to be just as powerful when a scene demands it. The problem is there is no one on Joe’s level, and the movie doesn’t know how to overcome that. The only reason to make Cyrus super strong is to push the plot forward, otherwise Joe would end this in seconds.
I wish this had explored what it was like for Joe to live as a former super hero. His life has got to be boring. This could also delve into good, bad, in between, and Joe’s viewpoint on that. Does he have any desire to live up to the Samaritan mantle? Why did he give up the mantle? The movie has an explanation, but it’s not enough.