On its surface, Samaritan could be Amazon Prime’s ground superhero drama equivalent of Marvel’s Logan or even M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable. Sylvester Stallone plays a garbage man who likes to fix items that he finds in the trash, seemingly retired from the superhero game and living life as a loner.

Through voice over narration, the audience learns that Samaritan was a well-known superhero and his twin brother, Nemesis, was an equally well-known and super-powered for vengeance and destruction. Once Nemesis fell in battle by his brother’s hand, Samaritan seemingly hung up his uniform and disappeared from the public eye.

Stallone’s retirement ends when his character finds a troubled, fatherless kid in Sam Cleary (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton ). Stallone’s gruff anti-hero saves Sam as he gets involved with a gang of local thugs who just happen to worship Nemesis. In fact, the gang’s leader, Cyrus ( Game of Thrones’ Pilou Asbæk), wants to revive Nemesis’ persona to lead an anarchist movement.

Cyrus is psychopathic villain whose motivations are poorly defined and his decisions follow no logical motivation. He sets out to steal the hammer of Nemesis along with his mask from a police barracks, then impersonate him while unleashing EMP grenades on the city and mobilizing its looters.

It’s a real shame that the film lacks a worthy antagonist, or worthy script, as Stallone gives a solid performance as the jaded warrior who’s seen his fair share of trauma.

Julius Avery directs the film from a script by Bragi F. Schut, which does include one nicely placed twist which audiences will appreciate. Unfortunately, the rest of the script is a poorly-written, contrived affair with scenes that leave audiences shaking their heads. No one is more confounding in the film than Moisés Aria, who tries to channel a gangster version of Timothee Chalamet as he bullies young Sam and then tries to kill Stallone’s character via hit and run.

There’s a particular scene where Cyrus tells Sam the importance of learning how to whistle when he spots the police coming, and then it’s never referenced again. It’s a cringe-inducing, illogical sequel that somehow made the final cut of this low budget puzzle of a film. The audience knows what they’re getting from Stallone these days, but this is a low point even for his recent filmography. And it’s truly a shame, as the Oscar winner could’ve done something memorable in the superhero genre, given stronger material.

The movie would have been more interesting if it traded in the cheap CGI fire and bullets for a more grounded and gritty character-driven affair. Fans of Stallone will likely find enough here to warrant a viewing, but there’s little that Samaritan can offer more discerning viewers.

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron is the Awards Editor and Founder of Awards Focus, in addition to being a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's Behind the Slate Screening Series for Emmy and Oscar nominees, The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series, The Hollywood Music and Media Academy FYC Series, and Emmy & Oscar panels for Society of Lyricists and Composers.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, Lovecraft Country & The White Lotus; and the Apple TV + hit series Ted Lasso.

In February of 2020, Byron hosted and organized the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

Byron is also a patent holding inventor, screenwriter, and songwriter (X-Men Apocalypse) in addition to being a proud member of The Society of Lyricists & Composers and BMI.

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