SAMARITAN (AMAZON PRIME) (2022)
SYNOPSIS: 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. With crime on the rise and the city on the brink of chaos, Sam makes it his mission to coax his neighbor out of hiding to save the city from ruin.
In the apparent last leg of his career, Sylvester Stallone returns to playing the superhero after the disastrous Judge Dredd and voicing King Shark in last year, The Suicide Squad.
Samaritan is written by Bragi F. Schut who also adapts the material into a series of graphic novels prior to the movie release. The core of the story is straight out simple. In a way, it’s far more easier to follow than the average Marvel and DC flick for non-superhero movie fans. Heck, it even has lesser CGI carnage than the last Thor outing which might turned out to be a good thing after all.
Anyway, the opening tells us that 25 years ago, a superhero named Samaritan and his baddie brother, Nemesis disappear from the world after a sibling rivalry at a power plant turned horribly wrong. In short, Samaritan was the good guy who fights crimes and saved lives. Nemesis on the other hand a villain who hates the world and forged a sledgehammer to fight against his brother.
Fast forward to present day Granite City, a 13 year old boy named Sam (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton) is a super big fan of Samaritan who believes he is still alive. Living from hand to mouth with a single parent, Sam in an attempt to earn some extra cash ends up in the wrong company of men, one that is led by Cryrus (Pilou Asbæk) who for no reason wants to be the next Nemesis and watch the world burn even though Granite City is already in shambles with high unemployment rates and poverty.
Coincidentally, Sam found out that the garbage man named Joe Smith that lives opposite his block might be Samaritan after Joe saved Sam from a couple of thugs. And the rest of the movie is entirely predictable although there is a small twist in the end.
At the age of 76, Sylvester Stallone remains a highly believable onscreen hero. In the role of the reclusive superhero, he plays it like another grizzled John Rambo and Rocky Balboa, only this time he is invincible except in high temperature environment. We have no issue with Stallone except for the all too mundane storyline. You see, playing a mentor/father figure to a young boy isn’t that interesting compared to a plotting that involves two superhero brothers that don’t see eye to eye.
Add to all the blandness is a poorly defined antagonist. If you think the bad guys in Marvel movies are one dimensional, wait till you see Cyrus. An angry white guy waiting to watch the world burn? We got the Joker in The Dark Knight and he is one hell of a character.
Without relying too much on CGI, Australian director Julius Avery (Overlord) knows how to setup a couple of intense fight sequences although most of the action ends up being too repetitive and owing to the mild rating, less graphical than expected.
To be fair, Samaritan works fine as a non-licensed character from Marvel and DC. It generally feels more grounded and while it raises a lot of questions about good vs evil and the political climate, it never fully addresses all the issues before Joe walks away. Will there be a sequel? We are honestly hoping for one. Stallone definitely still has some mileage left.
Review by Linus Tee