“The Samaritan” gets as many things right as it does wrong. One thing it did right was remind us that Samuel L. Jackson is a credible actor and can do more than be Samuel L. Jackson. He shows some nuance and grace which is a nice departure from being eaten by a shark or organizing a team of super heros. Now, even though Samuel L. Jackson shows some restraint, “The Samaritan” does not.
“The Samaritan” is pitched as a Neo-Noir, and assuming I know what that is, it sure hits its mark. “The Samaritan” looks slick, is exceedingly violent, and deals with a gritty subject matter with a plethora of twists and turns.
Samuel L. Jackson plays an ex-grifter named Foley. He was recently released from prison and is attempting to piece together a low-key lifestyle. During his attempt to live a normal life he is constantly prodded by the son of his deceased grifting partner, Ethan (Luke Kirby). Ethan is fairly adamant that Foley help him on one last massive grift. Ethan even goes so far as to offer Foley sexual favors from a young drug addict named Iris (Ruth Negga). Foley continuously declines his offers, but does start a relationship with Iris. It starts off strictly sexual, but the two eventually find solace in one another.
There’s a pretty massive twist that occurs half-way through this movie. It’s hard to go on with a description without revealing the twist, so I’ll just say Ethan corners Foley. The man they’re conning is a hyper violent business man named Xavier (Tom Wilkinson doing his best Hannibal Lecter impression).
The main problem with “The Samaritan” is that it just reminds me of too many other movies. It’s not bad by any means, it’s just there. It’s not quite unique enough to be considered original, and it’s not quality enough to subjugate the genre. I felt as if I saw a good film when the credits started to roll, but I’m writing this review the day after, and I’m already having trouble remembering the details.
This movie does introduce the world to Ruth Negga (I can’t help but feel racist when I type her name). She held her own with Wilkinson and Jackson and seemed to be at her best the more demanding the role became. Samuel L. Jackson is solid as Foley and his performance may be better than the movie in its entirety.
Here’s a weird paragraph that I have to write to make my 600 word quota. This movie is unnecessarily violent. It’s not at the level of “Human Centipede 2” or “I Saw the Devil” but this story doesn’t call for it’s extraneous amounts of blood. This movie does call for some violence, but it wasn’t about violence. “I Saw the Devil” was about psychopathic murderers. “The Samaritan” is about grifting and redemption.
CRAZY PLOT TWIST SPOILER THAT HAPPENS ABOUT 30 MINUTES IN…
Shortly after Foley decides to get into a romantic relationship with Iris, Ethan reveals that Iris is Foley’s daughter. If Foley does not participate in his grift then he will reveal that information to Iris and her world will be shattered. The whole scenario was a setup for Ethan to blackmail Foley. Was he really that certain Foley would fall in love with Iris?
This is really my fault more than the movies, but the incest twist is very similar to “Oldboy.” Then I just thought about how awesome “Oldboy” is. Now I just want to watch “Oldoy.” So, my conclusion for “The Samaritin” review is that “Oldboy” is great.