MOVIE | Hammy acting and an unambitious plot undercut a film about a boy torn between good and evil
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➤ Rated PG-13
➤ Prime Video
➤ S1 / V7 / L5*
In Samaritan, Sylvester Stallone plays a fists-first tough guy, but the character doesn’t resemble the compassionate protagonist in Luke 10 to which the film’s title alludes. Samaritan has a promising premise, but frequent profanities (particularly from a child’s mouth), hammy acting, and an unambitious plot make for dreary viewing.
Samaritan opens with backstory narration: Samaritan and Nemesis, two brothers with supernatural strength, appear to die in an explosion while fighting each other. Years later, 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walton) is obsessed with the Samaritan legend. He witnesses Joe Smith (Stallone), a neighbor from his apartment complex, single-handedly fend off a gang of thugs. Could the graying garbage man be Samaritan? Fatherless Sam begins to bond with the reclusive Joe.
Meanwhile, a petty criminal named Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) plans to subjugate Granite City. Wearing a Nemesis mask, Cyrus incites “all the people this city left behind” to revolt. “It’s time to take back what’s yours!” he shouts to a street mob, who begin looting and torching cars. Cyrus also tries to lure Sam into a life of crime. And so begins a slug-fest between Cyrus’ crew and Joe, for the fates of the city and Sam.
At its best, Samaritan is about a boy torn between good and evil. But the execution is cartoonish: Characters literally growl with exertion, and clobbered bad guys tumble head over heels. And close-ups of Joe grimacing as he crushes a toaster don’t arouse the intended awe. It’s hard to take any of it seriously. In this case, passing Samaritan by on the other side of the road is the good deed.
*Ratings from kids-in-mind.com, with quantity of sexual (S), violent (V), and foul-language (L) content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high
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