ACTION (OLD) MAN
Between the conclusion (the real one) of the saga Rambothe confirmed absence of Rocky Balboa in Creed III and the impending departure of Barney Ross in the next installment ofExpendables, one would have thought that at more than 75 years old, Sylvester Stallone had finally got used to the idea of aging. But with The Samaritan (which he produced), the actor has above all proved that he still loves comebacks so much and was not not ready to let go of his indomitable action hero statusnor its image of eternal outsider.
After spending his career playing damaged supermen who save people, Stallone has therefore officially become his own caricature by interpreting an old superhero forced to come out of retirement to prove that he still has enough in his arms and that he is nothing of a relic. Inevitably, the profile of this new muscular gentleman has not changed so much from the previous ones.
His character, Joe Smith, is a lonely man, traumatized by his past and in search of redemption. He devoted part of his life to protecting that of others, but is no longer considered by many, even if he is destined to regain the respect of his compatriots by opening his heart and the skull of his enemies.
He likes to fix old broken things, if it’s not deep like writing
This dusty story could still have been a minimum of entertaining if it dared to be as naughty as agreed, but it remains on the contrary too smooth and wise. Although he is still well preserved and no one would want to tickle his nostrils, Sylvester Stallone obviously no longer has his form of yesteryear. Bragi F. Schut’s script is therefore stingy in action and shortens the few exchanges of blows as much as possible so as not to betray his breathlessness.
Thus, the actor growls more than he strikes, connects the static choreographies and is content to make faces to sound the charge, far from the power that his character should convey. The film even tries at times to camouflage the softness of its fighting sequences with laughable punchlines inherited from the testosterone B series of the 80s and 90s, especially when Stallone nonchalantly says “have fun withto a villain about to be blown up by a bomb.
Who sows the wind reaps a current of air
Although it was later adapted into comics, the script is an original story that is onlyan impoverished version of everything that has already been done elsewhere, whether at Marvel, DC or in independent works. Joe Smith is just a copy of old Bruce Wayne in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns with powers almost identical to those of Bruce Willis in Unbreakable. His origin story, which bears similarities to that of Wolverine, is dispatched in an animated prologue at the Archenemy which compiles the lazy shots, especially the fratricidal struggle, the special weapon that can defeat the Samaritan and the villain who is called Nemesis.
Granite City, the city where the story takes place, has been transformed into a sort of Gotham City, with its dirty streets plagued by poverty and crime. Cyrus, the villain of Pilou Asbæk, is meanwhile an outdated ersatz of the Joker, meant to embody absolute evil and a new anarchic figure for the cornered and revolted people who give in to violence.
Why bother creating a solid mythology?
In addition to a desire for realism similar to that of Hancock (which isn’t really a good reference), the screenwriter thought it would be super original to break the supposed gender dichotomy by “questioning” the notion of heroism and anti-heroism, an increasingly recurrent and off-putting trope in the world of superheroes. After having duly presented to the public the gentleman who saves children and the one who threatens to kill them, the last third of the film thus attempts a gross inversion of values and the balance of power in a winded and threadbare script reversal.
All this to finally keep the image without nuance of a good Stallone triumphing over evil, and to conclude with a silly and regurgitated message on the part of goodness and darkness in each of us. Close to crying, but not for the right reasons.
The bad guys are so bad they all have tattoos on their faces
Beyond its sentimentality and its lack of originality, the scenario does not even manage to dig the rather interesting narrative tracks that it launches. In order to preserve its reversal of situation (as little impacting as it is), the relationship between The Samaritan and his brother – yet at the heart of the story – is never addressed. Whether it’s about the loss of his twin, his guilt, his mysterious past, or just his motives, Joe is an empty shell that the film never cares about. And Stallone’s monolithic acting doesn’t help nuance the character or enrich his characterization.
The story is also not interested in Sam, the young admiring teenager of the Samaritan. But it’s him who could have brought a little warmth and emotion to the whole, if only the film had deepened its initial premise, that is to say a kid torn between two father figures, lost between his childhood dreams and his disillusions, instead of abandoning him along the way. And that’s all the more unfortunate, given that Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton is the most invested and authentic on screen.
“If not, have you ever watched Euphoria?”
The social and political context is as thick as the characters. The city is supposed to be a powder keg about to explode, but the tension is only addressed through a few snippets of TV news (the pinnacle of innovation). The turning point, which sees a difficult and underprivileged neighborhood turn into an area of lawlessness, comes down to a scene where Pilou Asbæk rallies around twenty extras after a hollow speech about social inequalities and political inaction on which the screenplay is completely out of the question.
The conflict is never palpable and the great popular uprising supposed to plunge the city into chaos is never experienced from the inside, except through two or three shots of hooded people surrounded by smoke bombs, which demonstrate all the inventiveness of Julius Avery’s staging.
If it is not particularly infamous (next for example to a Morbius or a Arthur, curse), The Samaritan therefore has little interest, except that of confirming that it would be time for Stallone to lay down his arms.
The Samaritan is available from August 26 on Amazon Prime Video.