Sylvester Stallone Plays Reluctant Hero in Amazon’s Not-So-Good Samaritan
The comic-book-inspired animated opening proved to be the best part of The Samaritan, a highly unusual superhero tale that stars Sylvester Stallone as the long-retired title character and otherwise feels like the production of the 1990s Precious TV pilot. While this is tolerable on its own terms, critically speaking, it would probably be charitable to ignore it.
Not only does Stallone star in this Amazon movie, the most obvious spiritual relative of which would be M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable , right down to the hero’s rain-soaked hooded jacket. Still, his portrayal of the gnarled old warrior who reluctantly helps the youngster has a hint of his recent work in the Creed movies — in this case, Euphoria’s Javon “Wanna” Walton.
Said 13-year-old boy, Sam, lives in Granite City, a Gotham-like vision of urban decay and chaos, where he and his mother (Dasha Polanka) spend most of their time fighting to avoid eviction, as well as most of the population that could use a symbol of hope.
Like all the kids in these movies, Sam is obsessed with the superhero who has long mourned the Samaritan, who disappeared 25 years ago after a brutal battle with his twin, Nemesis, turned evil.
“I believe the Samaritan is still alive,” a wide-eyed Sam announces, settling on reclusive neighbor, Stallone’s aging scavenger Joe Smith, as the latest suspect.
Of course, the Samaritan will need a reason to resign, and it’s not the erosion of civic norms, but the intrusion of rookie gang boss Cyrus (Game of Thrones’ Pila Asbeck), whose vaguely defined criminal plans to do the one thing that might trigger Joe’s conscience, namely , put Sam in danger.
Directed by Julius Avery (“The Lord”) and written by Braggy F. Shutt, The Samaritan is probably best shown during the after-school special, in which taciturn Joe and impatient Sam gradually, if inevitably, grow closer, with the latter unleashing his inner fanboy. , when trying to persuade the old man to take off one mask and put back the other.
The action, on the other hand, is rather uninspired, with one of the key shots having a visual effect that looks simple and distracted.
About all that’s left is the modest thrill of seeing Stallone in such an environment, a novelty that only goes so far. Of course, a little star power can go a long way when it comes to getting streaming projects noticed, and that’s half the battle. What he cannot do in this context is transform a mediocre, unremarkable premise into a good Samaritan.
The Samaritan premieres August 26 on Amazon Prime. It is rated PG-13.