Action/Drama/Fantasy | Amazon Studios & United Artists Releasing | Runtime: 101m | Rating: PG-13
Directed By: Julius Avery
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Moises Arias, Martin Starr, Jared Odrick
Synopsis: A young boy living without a father in a tough city thinks he has found a superhero living across the street from his apartment who went missing after a climactic battle two decades earlier.
Hollywood legend Sylvester Stallone has played superheroes in the past. He’s been Judge Dredd, and he will be reprising his role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 next year. But to see Stallone in true comic book fashion one need look no further than Samaritan coming to Prime Video this weekend. I’ve been anticipating this film for a couple years now and after many delays it’s finally here and the verdict is…a win! I had such a great time with this movie and seeing Stallone in the role of a grizzled old superhero was just about all I could hope for coming from a guy his age.
There is no denying Samaritan does retrace many familiar steps inside the superhero origin story wheelhouse. However, the recycled elements of this story are littered with plenty of unique parts to create a highly engaging adventure, down a path we’ve all been on before. I enjoyed how this movie begins its narrative in an already established world. So essentially you get an origins story for where this hero is in the current day as he meets and befriends this young boy. While also getting the flashbacks of a climactic battle that served as the Samaritan’s last many years in the past. This teaches you all about the world, the characters, and their history, without the usual steps of a hero learning to grow into his powers. So, like I said, there is a fresh progression and layering to this plot-structure that does result in an efficient backbone for the hero and the comic-book action.
Some could find the first half of this movie a bit slow. It admittedly does have more of a methodical pace than maybe necessary. Yet at the same time this does give the story time to really develop where this former hero is in his life. As well as framing the friendships he grows with young Sam (Javon Walton). I think Stallone and Walton have a great chemistry together and their energy in these roles is able to make their routine friendship much more appealing. Sam is a cute little kid, and he is a charming little kid. Stallone captures the frustration of his character’s reluctance to simply leave this kid alone with sincerity and I think these little things are able to give their bond plenty of visible strength which will inevitably come in handy as the final act kicks in and the ramifications elevate.
Samaritan doesn’t really do anything outside of the sandbox, but it shows playing in that same box can still be a good time. I was intrigued in where this story would go. The villains while simplistic in motives were enough to give Stallone a viable challenge to come out of retirement to deal with. Pilou Asbæk was pleasantly sadistic without trying too hard. And Stallone’s friendship with Sam supplied enough motivation to get behind as the viewer. Resulting in a capable movie that really rides at full momentum in the final act when the action kicks in. It’s all a bit CGI heavy but it’s more than enough to cap off this grounded superhero story with a satisfying closing. It’s violent, with fast paced sequences filled with delightful comic book carnage. It does feel a bit clean. Not really a made-for-TV feel, but certainly not as gritty as the story could have provided which does limit the mood a bit. But seeing Stallone front and center as a veteran superhero just has an appeal to it that I can’t quite explain.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.