On paper, Sylvester Stallone’s latest film Samaritan seems like it has everything that one expects from a superhero flick. It promises action and gives us our washed-up protagonist seeking redemption, along with a heart-warming relationship between the hero and a teenage boy. And yet, Samaritan feels dull and uninventive.
In a hurried flashback, we learn that Stallone’s titular superhero and his evil twin brother, Nemesis, supposedly fought each other to death. We later learn, through a 13-year-old boy, Sam, (Javon “Wanna” Walton) that Samaritan had actually made it alive and is now living the life of a common man. When the weapon that Nemesis made to kill Samaritan is unearthed by Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) and his team, Samaritan has to, in a predictable turn of events, save the day one last time.
An adaptation of Mythos Comics’ graphic novels of the same name, Samaritan tries to approach the plot with unoriginal angles––the economy is about to collapse and the city is on the brink of a riot––when Asbæk’s antagonist, Cyrus, unleashes anarchy and chaos commences. Even when there is an idea that does show potential, for instance, the emergence of a fan-following for Nemesis, the film doesn’t see it through.
Asbæk, who blew us away with his limited yet intense role as Euron Greyjoy in Game Of Thrones, is reduced to a one-dimensional character who adds no value to the film.
Stallone too has little to offer. In the last few years, Samaritan is the veteran actor’s only non-franchise film and he seemed to have left action behind and chosen performance-oriented roles with films such as Creed.
This revisit to the action genre was perhaps better avoided. Besides the weak plot, the characters are underdeveloped, the humour is off and the climax is predictable, but the final nail in the coffin is the mediocre action that feels like a hodgepodge of scuffles to an audience that is used to the grand action set pieces of Marvel and DC films.
Samaritan should have been a fitting tribute to a legendary actor who captured our imagination through his larger-than-life roles in the 90s, but all we get is a tepid adaptation. What’s the point of a superhero film that can’t pack a punch?