Two brothers, destined to fight, battle to the death for the fate of a city. In the aftermath is a broken city in need of a hero. This is the opening and premise of Julius Avery’s new film, ‘Samaritan’. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Javon Walton, Natacha Karam, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, and Moises Arias, ‘Samaritan’ tells a new superhero story about a retired hero and a kid who aspires to be like him and discover his real identity. The kid falls into a bad crowd in order to make money and Stallone’s character, Joe Smith, works to help him get out of trouble and stay on the right track. Despite some sprinkled in originality, this is definitely a superhero story we’ve seen before, and done well. From films about retired heroes like ‘Logan’ to unlikely kid/superhero duos like in ‘Iron Man 3’, can ‘Samaritan’ really stand out? And if so, how?
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Sylvester Stallone Spills Secrets on Making of ‘Samaritan’ | In-Depth Scoop
Where ‘Samaritan’ Almost Hits The Mark
‘Samaritan’ takes place in Granite City, a fictional town likely based on Detroit considering its overall gritty feel. The look and feel of the film feel like something straight out of DC Comics. The premise of the film follows the events of a battle between two brothers, Samaritan and Nemesis. With Nemesis and Samaritan both believed to be dead, the city of Granite City turns to crime. Among these rampant criminals is Edwin, played by Pilou Asbæk, a fanboy of the once villainous Nemesis. In what is likely one of the most intriguing scenes in the entire film, Sam, played by Javon Walton, asks Edwin why he is a fan of Nemesis. Edwin explains that in his eyes, Nemesis was always the hero, protecting the less fortunate while Samaritan only cared about the wealthy and fortunate. This opens up the discussion that maybe the story of Samaritan and Nemesis is not so cut and dry. From this, it seems possible that Samaritan is not ‘the good guy’ and Nemesis ‘the bad guy’.
Although everyone in Granite City has so much praise for Samaritan, we never actually see him save anyone or do anything out of the ordinary. Throughout ‘Samaritan’, it is difficult to understand why exactly this city looks so much to him. Along with this, we never hear or see why Nemesis was such a terrible villain. The film opens with a narration of Sam telling the origins of Samaritan and Nemesis. From this, we get very little about these characters, and leave us wanting more. By the end of the film, though, we learn very little about these characters, and the audience is left to still ask questions.
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Come Behind The Scenes of ‘Samaritan’ | Sylvester Stallone, Javon Walton and Julius Avery
Despite everything ‘Samaritan’ seems to have going for it, the film still seems to miss its own point. While the film gives itself so many changes to make characters compelling and three-dimensional, it instead opts for the usual superhero flick stereotypes. A perfect example of this is the character of Edwin. Edwin stands out as a super villian fanboy, something that feels vaguely familiar to Kylo Ren in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ or Syndrome in ‘The Incredibles’. Despite his obsession, he feels like an intriguing piece to this story and Pilou Asbæk plays the role very well. However, Edwin still feels very one-sided, like a villain with little to no motivation. This is especially shown in the final showdown, where Edwin and Joe Smith fight for the fate of Sam, played by Javon Walton. Without spoiling why, audiences who understand what is transpiring could ask why in the world would Edwin choose to fight this battle since it feels completely against everything the film has set up about this character. In many ways, ‘Samaritan’ tries to explore morality and moral grayness but still boils its characters down to just good and bad. While this final scene between two morally struggling characters could have made for a powerful moment, instead it felt like a typical final showdown scene.
Sylvester Stallone the Super Hero
What might be the biggest question audiences will have going into this movie is how well does 76-year-old Sylvester Stallone do as ‘Samaritan’s’ leading man? Despite the poor reviews the film received, Stallone delivers what he is given. Stallone had recently played a superhero-esque role in the Marvel film, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2’ as Ogord, a member of a space-pirate crew. In ‘Samaritan’, Stallone’s character, Joe Smith, is like old man Rocky with superpowers. However, it works well. Both leading actors Stallone and Walton did an excellent job of creating a grandfather-grandson dynamic that played well throughout the movie.
While this film may not be a masterclass in acting, Stallone definitely brought a great deal of heart and excitement to this role. Stallone, being older, has definitely missed the mark to play any kind of young superhero, so a role like the older Joe Smith in ‘Samaritan’ is perfect for the actor’s late-stage career.
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Javon Wanna Spills Secrets on Making of ‘Samaritan’ | In-Depth Scoop
Despite Stallone’s new superhero film feeling a little cookie-cutter, ‘Samaritan’ still works as a fun ride filled with entertainment for all ages. The twists and turns of ‘Samaritan’ at times are predictable, but still serve to create tension and fun moments. The story overall proved to lack some creativity and originality, but acting performances from the likes of Stallone, Walton, and Asbæk lifted what seemed to be a relatively dull script. While the film manages to stand out with some well-done music, audio, and cinematography, this does not lift the film to new heights. The costume designs for a great deal of these characters does feel bland, including the original suits for Samaritan and Nemesis. Visually, the best-looking character in this entire film was Edwin, the main antagonist. His outfit feels unique and pops like something from a comic book. Overall, ‘Samaritan’ is a great watch if you are looking for a fun action packed superhero ride.
By Spencer Hoffman
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Spencer Hoffman is a writer for The Hollywood Insider and current film student. He is an avid consumer of cinema and television and enjoys sharing his insight on these topics within his features and reviews. He strongly believes in the power of the written word and the importance of truth in everything. Spencer aligns with The Hollywood Insider’s views of empowerment and raising all types of voices up. He hopes to entertain and incite meaningful conversation with his pieces.