Review by Sean Boelman
The latest victim… er… repurposed film of the MGM/Amazon merger that was originally set to go to theaters but now heads straight to Prime Video is Samaritan, a big-budget starring vehicle for the iconic action hero Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t seem to know who it’s for — be it younger audiences into the superhero craze or older audiences who were fans of Stallone in his prime — resulting in an end product that will please no one.
The film follows a young boy who discovers the secret identity of a superhero who was thought to have disappeared decades earlier, forcing him to save the world one last time. There have been plenty of movies that have attempted to take this “grounded” superhero approach, but few have been as outright lifeless as this.
For an action movie starring Sylvester Stallone, this film is miraculously and dreadfully boring. The action sequences are few and far between, and while the ones that allow Stallone to go full badass are at least mildly entertaining, that’s only around five minutes of the hour and forty-minute runtime.
Like… literally almost every other superhero story to ever be told, the central theme of this movie is that with great power comes great responsibility. Yet despite the extremely basic nature of the film’s themes, it manages to feel like it isn’t saying much at all. Simply showing Stallone’s character refusing to use his powers before embracing them for the greater good is very shallow.
The movie attempts to use the bond that forms between the young protagonist and Stallone’s character as a means of characterization for both of them, but it’s very generic and ineffective. Thankfully, the kid isn’t annoying like most young protagonists of movies like this can be, but he’s still not interesting.
For the more action-oriented parts of the movie, Stallone seems like he is actually having fun again, which is not always the case with his newer films. However, in the dialogue-driven portions, he’s phoning it in. Considering that the character is meant to be gruff and distant, it almost works, but there are several moments that are just too clunky to forgive.
The CGI is definitely not of the highest quality, but this could have been excusable were it not for the horrendously dull action choreography. There are two or three decent hammer-based action scenes, but given that Stallone is such a legend of the genre, it’s frustrating to see a movie treat him as geriatrically as this.
Samaritan wasn’t ever going to be a masterpiece, but it manages to fall short delivering on even the most basic expectations of a film like this. This movie is obviously meant to pay homage to Stallone’s legacy as an actor, but all it does is attempt to capitalize on his image to no avail.
Samaritan hits Prime Video on August 26.