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.

Letter Grade: C-

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a proud member of the Television Academy, the Hollywood Critics Association (HCA), and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). 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 and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted 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, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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