Home Movie Reviews ‘Samaritan’ – Review
‘Samaritan’ – Review

‘Samaritan’ – Review


When it comes to action cinema one actor who reigns supreme in the genre is Sylvester Stallone. A Hollywood legend who for close to five decades has helped to bring to life some of the most classic and memorable action franchises of all time now steps things up a notch as he looks to bring a new edge to the superhero genre with his hard-hitting work in Samaritan. And this picture is delivered with plenty of force.

A young boy comes to the realization that a famed superhero, who was thought to have gone missing after an epic battle twenty-five years ago, may in fact still be around.

In terms of cinematic dominance, the superhero genre is currently the king of the box office. Daring heroes and heroines face down monsters and madmen, and audiences flock to witness these colossal battles of mighty Earth-bound gods. Now Sylvester Stallone is ready to step into the ring with a new take on the genre in Samaritan, and this is a dark and edgy piece of cinema that hits hard. Director Julius Avery centres his film in the dark and foreboding environment of Granite City, and Samaritan takes a boots-on-the-ground approach to its narrative delivery. This is a dark and gritty story that mirrors the mucky, rain-soaked environment in which it takes place. There’s no four-colour spandex in this world, and the relevance of Samaritan’s legacy as a hero has great significance to the story.

While Samaritan does have intense action beats and fits very squarely in the classic superhero action mould, Avery and Stallone focus much of their attention on a character study of the reclusive former hero Joe Smith. As a city garbage man, Stallone’s Smith is unassuming and not looking to buck the system, he’s hidden himself away from the world and spends his time fixing broken things. In short, this is a very different kind of character for Stallone to play, and it’s incredibly interesting to see him play so much against type. While Stallone is no stranger to the superhero genre, it’s interesting as an audience member to see him play such an introverted and reclusive character. As the narratives move forward his decisions for retiring the cape are made clear, and there’s one hell of a shock that you won’t be ready for.

Fans of the superhero genre will also be interested in how Avery and Stallone inject a classic sense of mythology and archetypal symbolism into Samaritan. With its presence of warring fraternal twins, the ashes of a destroyed city and the need for a hero to rise, Samaritan takes much inspiration from the classics in its construction and this grounds its narrative and gives the journey of Joe Smith much more dramatic weight.

Samaritan takes its time with its action moments, and while there are a few scraps, it’s not until the third act were things heat up. And it goes nuclear pretty quickly. This third-act throwdown makes for one hell of scrap on screen. And Stallone brings the fight. This is mano-o-mano action delivered with an old-school sluggers intensity. The explosions are big, the hits nasty, and Stallone jumps right in. His full-on bout with Pilou Asbæk’s gang lord Cyrus makes for a thrilling watch, and Avery turns up the heat. This final fight also carries a huge shock for the narrative, and audiences won’t see this hit coming, making the action more intense.

Sylvester Stallone ain’t slowing down for a moment, and his work on Samaritan is epic to witness. This character and narrative offer him a chance to play against type, along with finding a new side to an established genre and fans of superhero fiction will take something unique away from this one.

Samaritan is now streaming on Prime Video.

Image: Prime Video