Movie releases will never be the same after COVID changed the landscape of how studios approach certain titles. Unfortunately, this means that we will never see some new releases on the big screen that deserve it but at least we are still able to view them even if it’s at home on a streaming platform.
The recently released Predator entry Prey and The Tomorrow War are good examples of films that probably would have looked great in a movie theater. The visuals and sound definitely would have been elevated but alas we will never know as it’s home is forever streaming.
Now we have Amazon Prime jumping in and delivering another film that was scrapped from a cinema release and once again, while viewing it, I thought of what could have been. I’m talking of course of Sylvester Stallone’s foray into the superhero genre titled Samaritan. Stallone is one of the last great film stars and any film he’s in deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible.
I will admit that Samaritan doesn’t deliver anything new that we haven’t seen already but Stallone’s sheer presence, even at the age of 76, elevates the dark and brooding superhero tale. It’s good to see Sly do something different as we all think of his blockbuster franchises when his name comes up but here, he gives it his all and with its flaws, Samaritan is a throwback style action flick disguised as a superhero film and that was just fine by me.
The plot centers on thirteen-year-old Sam Cleary (Javon Walton) who is convinced that his neighbor Mr. Smith (Stallone) is actually the living legend hero Samaritan who disappeared twenty five years ago.
Back then, Samaritan, was reported dead after a fiery fight with his nemesis fittingly called Nemesis in a warehouse that went extremely awry. Things didn’t end good and no one has seen the high powered super vigilante since.
Fast forward to present day, and crime is on the rise in Granite City and Sam wants to do something about it. This includes tagging along with Smith and trying to coerce him into revealing himself so he can take up the mantle once again and save the city from a new threat in the form of the vile Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk, who is hateful as can be) and his army of henchmen who are looking to burn the city to the ground.
After checking out Samaritan, I understand why it went the steaming route as studios are more prone to dump films on TV instead of shelling out millions of dollars for a theatrical release. Movies like Samaritan are technically not going to probably be hit films so I get the the thought process but that still doesn’t help the fact that I would have loved to have seen Stallone kick ass on the big screen once more.
Like I said, Samaritan doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s Stallone who reels it in for genre fans and he proves that even being in his 70’s, he’s still an action movie threat. Stallone as Smith (and surprise, he is the Samaritan) is as likable as his other screen characters and you generally feel for him and what he’s gone through. Sly hits all the dramatic beats and shines more than ever when the fighting and carnage commences.
Javon Walton as Sam is a great addition as well and many times in a movie, kids and teenagers can be annoying and unsympathetic, but here Walton is solid as the boy who is looking for his hero. He has great screen presence for a young one and he has chemistry with the grizzled Hollywood icon.
Now there’s the action set pieces and while there’s a few here and there throughout the first two thirds of the movie, it’s the last half an hour where Samaritan really punches it home and brings viewers a little bit of that old school magic as Sly gets some and even delivers some nifty one liners as he does it. It really feels like more of an 80’s action pic here and even though there’s some of what today’s society has to offer at the same time, it still kicks ass and it’s always inviting to see Stallone bring the rain like he did back in the day.
Now it’s important to note that the movie is PG-13 so it never goes full on dark like it could have but for the rating, you still get some decent beatdowns and shades of violence. Those looking for something harder edged will be disappointed but I had fun with it and the action was shot well and you can clearly see all the glory when Sky finally lets loose.
CGI does rear its head into the proceedings but it never dampens the mood and it serves its purpose.
Overall, Samaritan is a different flavor for a superhero film and even though it doesn’t quite get there, it still gives us what we want to see. Stallone is great as always and he balances the drama with the killer action like he always does.
Could the film have entered darker territory? Sure but what we get is suitable for it does offer something a little bit different than what the MCU has. I would compare Samaritan to the Marvel Netflix shows like Daredevil and Luke Cage as they are darker as well but never go full on R rated.
Stallone is the draw here and with that Samaritan balances old school action and theatrics with the current superhero trend that we all have gotten accustomed too. It checks the boxes it needs to and delivers what it says it will.