Review of Samaritan: Sylvester Stallone brings to life a generic superhero story with his muscle power
In spite of the fact that Marvel still dominates the superhero market, every other studio is trying to get a piece of this very lucrative cake by constantly releasing movies and series that feature superpowered characters.
One of the most recent films in this genre is Samaritan, starring Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone as a retired superhero trying to escape his glory days while his city drowns in crime because of a crime wave.
In the midst of yet another gritty and dark take on the genre, Samaritan struggles to bring anything new to the table, turning an innovative concept into a generic tale of a superhero who is out to save the world.
From the very beginning, we are presented with Samaritan’s rich background as two superpowered twin brothers take opposite paths in life, both becoming superheroes in their own right, while the other builds a reputation for being the terrorist villain Nemesis.
The two of them both die in a fire during their final confrontation, 25 years before the events of the movie take place.
Samaritan Review: Sylvester Stallone Carries A Generic Superhero Story With His Muscles
It is still believed, however, that Samaritan survived the fateful duel and is hiding among people today.
The story begins with a 13-year-old boy named Sam (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton), who is a fan of the old superhero stories and spends a lot of time daydreaming about finding out where Samaritan hides during the day.
There is an intriguing story hidden within that film, but the screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch) has the annoying habit of burying his best ideas under overused tropes and shallow relationships with humans.
It is safe to say that Samaritan, in the case of the movie, ticks all the boxes of superhero clichés.
Throughout the movie, there are a lot of badly placed exposition scenes that try to explain the rules of the fictional Granite City, who the major players in the film are, and how superpowers work in this universe.
In addition, these rules will, of course, be bent or completely ignored in order to move the plot forward and ensure that the hero is always exposed to the villains at the most exciting moments in the story.
Aside from that, the main characters also switch back and forth in their moral stances according to the needs of each scene, which undermines the human connections Samaritan attempts to forge between them.
The relationship between the retired superhero and the nosy kid is especially unearned, as their bond is taken as a given rather than being developed as a result of their shared experiences.
In addition, the script of Samaritan is also heavily dependent on a twist that can be easily deduced by anyone who has ever watched a movie before.
Moreover, Samaritan fails to explain why the twist occurs in order to make the story more enjoyable, undermining any emotional weight the twist might have had if it hadn’t been for its lack of explanation.
Moreover, due to a lack of crucial information about certain characters’ pasts, the film’s stakes are also reduced, which results in a disappointing ending that is even accompanied by a commonplace speech about good and evil that completely contradicts the movie’s message about unequal social structures and abusive police officers.
There are times when it seems that Samaritan is trying to convey a message about the horrors of poverty and unemployment that push people to commit crimes on a daily basis.
As a result, if that was the case, the movie could have taken advantage of the superhero formula to explore real-life issues that question the supposed moral higher ground of vigilantes by using the superhero formula.
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Unfortunately, despite the fact that the villains of the movie claim they are fighting for the freedom of the lower classes, they all seem to have mastered Bad Guy 101 in the process.
This includes laughing maniacally for no reason, enjoying torture, stealing toys from children, and even laughing maniacally from time to time for no reason at all.
I believe that the villains in this movie are just evil for the sake of evil, using every opportunity to harm innocent people just for the sake of being despicable and justifying the beatings that they are bound to suffer as a consequence.
The good news is that not everything in Samaritan is wasted. Stallone has a reputation for playing big brutes with a heart, characters who, even though they know they can easily win a fight, still choose to hold their punches and use their heads when they fight.
With Samaritan, Stallone has the experience that helps elevate an otherwise dull script by making his retired superhero into a sympathetic character as a result of his experience.
Stallone is not capable of redeeming Samaritan’s many flaws, but he can still make it a worthwhile movie for those willing to look past a generic superhero story with very shallow notions of morality for the sake of entertainment.
In a sense, however, that only adds to the tragedy of Samaritan’s release, since Granite City had the potential to explore the nuances of social inequality, but instead ends up serving as a backdrop for yet another forgettable superhero movie.
At the end of the day, Samaritan’s most irredeemable crime is being bland in a market oversaturated by media about superheroes.
Despite the fact that the movie does have some great action scenes, it has nothing new to say about the old good-versus-evil conflict at the core of any superhero story, and it is incapable of giving its villains a sense of purpose.
It is true that Stallone is a strong man, but even he is not capable of carrying the weight of an entire movie on his shoulders.
Samaritan is available now on Prime Video.