Every streaming service needs a superhero movie these days. Netflix has The old guardParamount+ recently had Secret headquarters, and Disney+ has half their library filled with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This time, Amazon Prime Video is taking its shot at the superhero genre Samaritans. This movie is about a kid named Sam (Javon Walton) living in a poor town who believes that a local sanitation worker named Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone) is the former superhero Samaritan. It’s easy to get bored with the saturated genre of superpowers, and movies like this are part of what contributes to that.
Samaritans is a frustratingly generic superhero outing that offers only sporadic entertainment. It’s always fascinating to see a superhero movie that isn’t based on a Marvel or DC character because the world is completely original. This movie takes us to the fictional Granite City which used to have two twin superheroes named Samaritan and Nemesis. After the two fought in a burning power plant, they were both presumably killed, but people believe that Samaritan is still alive. The idea of an invincible superhero living in hiding as a sanitation worker is excellent, but the film never does much we haven’t seen before.
The novelty of this idea comes from how it has its central characters, including the superhero living in poverty and crime. It’s an excellent idea to portray this in a superhero movie, but the writing holds the movie back. The premise of a kid who can’t stand up for himself and requires the help of a legendary hero who has fallen on hard times has been done to death. Knowledge of this premise was even made fun of earlier this summer Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. This conventional story is told in a way that never feels as interesting as it could be.
The story beats are predictable throughout and feature everything we would expect to see from a film with this premise. Samaritans offers a nice twist, but other than that, most of it is reheated leftovers with cliche writing and a story with little to offer. The performances in this film can also be surprisingly weak, as the actors have all given much better performances in their other works. Not even Stallone has enough charisma to save this movie, though, and the rest of the performances are typical over-the-top villainy.
However, this film is not without entertainment value. The 80s action movie lover in me always loves watching Stallone tear people apart. This movie knows how to appeal to Sly’s fans as it features surprisingly brutal PG-13 violence and the occasional action one-liner that makes you laugh about a time when heroes had to say something cool when they killed villains. Those who loved movies like Cobra, First Bloodand even The expendables will enjoy the film’s final act, where a mid-70s Stallone absolutely tears through the villains.
The problem with Samaritans always stays with scripture. The villain, Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), is unusually weak and forgettable, with bland, disposable motives. He even goes on a few wicked monologues from time to time. Furthermore, when you have a hero as strong and bulletproof as Stallone’s character, he can easily kill all the bad guys, so the action scenes don’t have you on the edge of your seat as much as they could. It doesn’t feel like this movie introduced an iconic new superhero with a cool, unique design because the Samaritan’s suit is barely used in the movie. Instead, it just looks like an aging Rambo kicking ass again.
There is a good amount of popcorn entertainment to be had Samaritans. Stallone has been fun to watch on screen since the 70s, and with his sixth straight decade as a leading man, he brings a lot of entertainment to this film. However, it’s not enough to save the film around him, which features subpar performances, generic writing and fake CGI fire. The movie can get boring at times, but it’s not a bad choice if you’ve been missing the violence of an aging action hero. Samaritans could have had Schwarzenegger, Willis, Neeson or even Van Damme and we would have enjoyed it all the same – sometimes, but not enough to be worthwhile.
Like ComingSoon’s audit policy explains, a score of 5 corresponds to “mediocre”. This score means that the positive and negative ends cancel each other out, making it a wash.
Disclosure: Critic received a press screener for ComingSoon’s Samaritans review.