In a rare crossover, like when in the sixth season of X-Files they showed scenes from the X-FilesI’m going to fish out a passage of my piece up The hawks of the night published in the Fighting guide to Sylvester Stallone (which you can buy HERE! Promotional message!):
It is always fascinating to see films produced on the border between two decades, in those gray areas where the typical characteristics of the cinema of one decade have not yet completely disappeared and the innovations of the next are slowly emerging. It is even more fascinating to do so when one examines the filmographies of two decades as poles apart as the American 70s and 80s. On the one hand, there is New Hollywood with its urban and realistic cinema, with its strong authors who dictate the law and manage to get a film on trust approved. On the other hand, the era of Reagan, of great studio films, fantastic cinema for children and muscle action cinema.
It can be said that Sylvester Stallone perfectly symbolizes this passage. On the one hand he is a screenwriter and interpreter of an intimate drama like Rocky, the perfect Oscar-winning New Hollywood film that became a stratospheric success and the forerunner of an unexpected saga. On the other is Rambo, Marion Cobretti. Together with Schwarzenegger, he is the standard-bearer of an action cinema forever linked to the 80s of nostalgia. She is the only figure of those years to embody two diametrically opposed aspects: everyman and superman in one convenient package. The ordinary superman.
In light of this, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Stallone, at the ripe old age of 76, better worn than my 42, has finally decided to play a real superhero. True in the canonical sense, in the sense of a guy endowed with superhuman powers born from some strange fact of science, who fights in a costume to protect an imaginary city (Granite City) from the forces of Evil, in this case his archenemy Nemesis ( wow, the scriptwriter’s fantasy Bragi F. Schutwhich looks like a name that came out of The Office, one day it will be studied by scientists from Zeta Reticuli when we have been extinct for a very long time). It should be specified, because after all Stallone was already a superhero in the 80s, when he mowed down armies with the expression of those who just didn’t want to be there, the sad and melancholy look that has always made him nice and the swollen and sweaty biceps of his great occasions. If superheroes are the modern Greek gods, Sly was perhaps not already a Greek god in Rocky IV, when he faced his nemesis and fellow Greek god Dolph Lundgren in the ring? The answer, before you waste time looking for it in your notes, is “YES”.
But I’m digressing. Samaritan kicks off with a prologue written by Adult With Surname Spiegoniin which we are told that, one fine day a few years ago, Samaritan he disappeared into thin air in the middle of a fire caused by Nemesis, precisely. Since then, there has been no trace of either of them, other than the occasional graffiti (they both had insane logos, stuff that must have spent more time thinking about those than doing their respective superhero and supervillain jobs. scene: “Samaritan! A gang of Congolese mercenaries stormed the fruit and vegetable market! Only you can stop them !!” Nemesis remained in the hearts of people.
Cut to “Present Day”, when the small and resolute Sam (Javon Walton), who, in case you missed it, is called Sam in a film called Samaritan, discovers that perhaps his misanthropic neighbor Joe Smith is none other than his idol. At the same time, however, Sam, who lives in semi-poverty with his mother who is a nurse in a neighborhood, is attracted to the gang of Cyrus (Pilou “for all” Asbæk). The latter is clearly a criminal madman with supervillain plans – so much so that at one point he steals the mask and weapon of Nemesis, a hammer that in comparison Mjolnir is Hammerand incites the people of Granite City to revolt as a Joker whatever – but he’s also the only person who treats Sam like an adult, gives him money and a lease on life. Except obviously a bit hard in case the movie is getting too ambiguous.
Here, this is a bit of the thematic heart of Samaritan, the eternal struggle between good and evil told, however, in a less obvious and Manichean way than what one might expect from a film in which the villain is called Nemesis. Indeed, let’s say that this last detail almost takes the form of a trap, a red herring placed at the beginning of the film to convince us that Samaritan is all a black / white when it is on the gray going instead. “Not all those who hurt are bad people,” Sly tells us at one point, and this is exactly the message that Schut and director Julius Avery (that of Overlord) want us to arrive with the subtlety of a hammer on the teeth by Nemesis. In this, Samaritan it is almost a political film, as it tries to show how, at times, especially if you have no money in your pocket and live on the margins of an unfair society, giving yourself to crime is the only possible choice. And the solution cannot be, then, to kill all the criminals, because the real problem is upstream.
Samaritan it is therefore a film that hides a greater complexity than one might think, that does not invent anything new but carries out its thesis with honesty. It is a film that talks about choices and, entitled itself Samaritanobviously speaks of the individual responsibility of each of us in contributing to society, in helping others rather than trying to overwhelm them. Sure, Avery recounts all of this through yet another reluctant and disillusioned hero forced back into action, but the development isn’t all that predictable.
Instead, what is taken for granted, very obvious, is the Great Twist that should make us re-read everything under a new perspective, and that instead I, as I believe anyone who has seen at least one film in his life, understood at minute two, literally. Maybe Schut and Avery didn’t really care so much about keeping it hidden, maybe they gave it up right away to focus on something else or, maybe, they’re just two cinema idiots (thinking back to Overlord, Avery probably is). However, if they had found a way to better hide the cards, the Big Reveal, which rests everything on the square shoulders of a Stallion who basically believes in it, would have had a completely different impact.
In general, seeing Samaritan one gets the impression that, among the folds of an altogether pleasant but mediocre film, there is a much better one, which perhaps could have emerged with a different director or screenwriter and with more time to refine the story beyond the themes. For example, it’s unclear what Cyrus’s evil plan is other than blowing up the city’s power grid because evil. And this takes away the pathos of a final confrontation that could have been much more apocalyptic, if only the production had had the money and the will to do it better.
As well as, Samaritan it is still a not terrible way to spend some time and see an old friend again: Sly is perfect as always in the role of the ex action man who has to find the eyes of the tiger, he is his comfort zone and he moves with the consummate agility of the great professional. It’s hard to say if Stallone put his hand to the script, as usual, but it was certainly written for him and about him, and it’s almost autobiographical in some respects, like pretty much everything Sly is putting his hand to today.
That said, we’ll probably forget about Samaritan day after tomorrow.
Prime Video odds:
“You are the evil, I am the lesser evil”
George Rohmer, i400Calci.com