(CTN News) – In “Samaritan,” Sylvester Stallone plays the long-retired title character in this by-the-numbers superhero flick that otherwise feels and looks like a 1990s TV pilot.
The charitable thing to do would probably be to ignore it on its own terms, even though it is acceptable on its own terms.
The Amazon movie, which Stallone produced as well as starred in, is the spiritual descendant of M. It even features the reluctant hero’s rain-soaked hooded jacket from M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable.
” Nevertheless, there are also elements of his “Creed” films in his portrayal of a gnarled old warrior grudgingly helping a youngster — this time, “Euphoria’s” Javon Walton.
The 13-year-old boy and his mother (Dascha Polanco) do their best to avoid eviction in Granite City, a city of decay and chaos where many people could use a symbol of hope.
Typical of kids in these movies, Sam idolizes the long-lost hero Samaritan, who disappeared 25 years earlier after a pitched battle with his evil twin, Nemesis.
“I believe Samaritan is still alive,” the wide-eyed Sam announces, having settled on a reclusive neighbor, Stallone’s aging garbage man Joe Smith, as the latest suspect.
Of course, Samaritan
would need a reason to come out of retirement, and that’s provided not by the erosion of civic norms but the intrusion of an aspiring gang boss, Cyrus (“Game of Thrones'” Pilou Asbæk), whose vaguely defined criminal plans do the one thing that might trigger Joe’s conscience — namely, put Sam in jeopardy.
From a script by Bragi F. Schut, Julius Avery (“Overlord”) directs “Samaritan,” which is arguably at its best during the after-school special portion of the film when Joe and Sam gradually but inevitably bond, where the latter unleashes his inner fanboy as he attempts to get the old man to remove one mask and reclaim the other.
A key visual-effect shot looks downright and distractingly cheesy during one of the key action shots.
There’s only the novelty of seeing Stallone in a setting like this, which isn’t much.
Streaming projects can benefit immensely from a little star power when it comes to drawing attention, which is half the battle. “Samaritan” can’t transform a mediocre, nondescript premise into a good one in this context.