Samaritan Review: Does Stallone’s forgotten Superhero Caper save the day?

Sylvester Stallone in Samaritan

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Stallone takes a wide swing at the profitable Superhero genre but unfortunately misses the target in ‘Samaritan’

Have you ever found yourself watching a movie that you know isn’t great but somehow, you’re still enjoying it? Whether it’s the interesting characters, the great action, engaging set pieces or committed performances from the actors? Well, this is not that movie.

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Sylvester Stallone as Joe Smith in SAMARITAN, directed by Julius Avery, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Action legend Sylvester Stallone has tackled most genres to various degrees of success over his illustrious career. While the superhero genre has been around for years, its only in the last 15 years it became a really attractive proposition for studios and actors alike. So, it’s only natural that an action connoisseur like Stallone would want to dip his toe into the superpowered waters with his own spin. It’s possible that to many, it seems quite easy to make these movies. Get a costume, some powers and a bad guy and throw it all together and that should work, right? Wrong

Comic book movie fans are the hardest to please because they often know the subject matter better than most. Deeper than costumes (which change regularly), things like powers and the hero’s lore/origins must be interesting and consistent. Directors like James Gunn and Zack Snyder invested months of research on characters like The Flash (why he can’t carry people when running) or Aquaman (how the Atlanteans talk under water). To cover the characters lore, ‘Samaritan’ opens with an illustrated sequences to explain the origins of the Samaritan and his twin Brother Nemesis (yes-Nemesis).

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Two young boys are born ‘freakishly strong’ so the towns people decide to burn their family alive in their home (?). The parents die, the boys survive. One becomes good and one becomes set on revenge and making the world suffer-yes really, that’s the origin story. No explanation is given of why they have this ‘freakish’ strength, why occasionally Samaritan is bulletproof and other times he needs a shield. Or why he can get hit by a car, break all his bones and self-heal, with ice cream to aid his recovery-yes, ice cream.

In Samaritan, 13yr old Sam (Javon Walton) is living in a rough neighbourhood, surrounded by crime and gangs. He is obsessed with the superhero ‘Samaritan’ who vanished 25yrs ago following an ‘epic’ battle with his brother Nemesis where they are both believed to have died. He lives with his single mother Tiffaney (Dascha Polanco) who is struggling to keep the bills paid.

Sam’s is convinced Samaritan is still alive and his investigation leads him to an old guy from across the block, Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone). Joe is a refuse collector and just wants to be left alone, but when his new friend Sam gets in trouble with the local gang, led by Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), Joe leaps into action to save his young friend and Granite city (yes, Granite city, I guess because its hard).

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As a lifelong Sylvester Stallone fan, I had high hopes for his foray into the superhero genre, I mean, its Stallone, he’s built for action. The producers of the film described it as a grittier superhero experience, more grounded in reality than typical films in the genre. Stallone even went as far as to say he felt this film had ‘DNA’ of his previous hits like Demolition Man, Cliff Hanger and the classic Rocky within it- If only that were the case. Stallone is usually great at playing down on their luck characters/outcasts and making them likeable, so the audience route for them. I felt no such affinity for Joe Smith.

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Sylvester Stallone as Joe Smith in SAMARITAN, directed by Julius Avery, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Credit: Daniel McFadden / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures © 2022 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The relationship between Sam and his mother had potential but is treated simply as a necessary chore. The ‘bad guys’ are cut and paste with gang leader Cyrus having a nonsensical goal about leaving the city in darkness so chaos can reign. the writing was truly on the wall when he gets on a car in a mask and gives his own poor version of Bane’s speech, about giving the city back to the people. He also gains possession of Nemesis Hammer which through the power of pure hate, has the magical ability to be the only weapon that can harm Samaritan.

Tonally, the movie is all over the place, trying to be a dark ‘Gotham like’ city where people come out to riot as well as Spider Man’s New York where people hit the streets to cheer their hero. Samaritan tries several things and succeeds at none, not even the ideas borrowed from other superhero movies. The action is mostly forgettable and any remotely interesting set pieces have already been shown in the trailers. This doesn’t work as an action film, a gritty drama, or a superhero movie.

I’m someone with a high tolerance when it comes to movies and even when they aren’t great, I’ll often let you know if they are still fun and worth a watch. It pains me to say but i can’t even recommend that in this case. I found no joy or fun in this movie, and it pains me to say this about a Stallone movie, but honestly, don’t bother.

If you want to find out for yourself and form your own opinion, ‘Samaritan’ is streaming on Prime video on 26th August. Make sure you come back and add your own review below. If you feel I’ve been too harsh or not, I’d like to hear from you

Writer & Digital content creator. The hero Gotham needs

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