Dean Devlin is a producer known for work on big budget, blockbuster action movies: Independence Day, Godzilla (1998), etc. Last year, he made his big screen directorial debut with the heavily panned Geostorm, which itself was a big action film aiming to be a blockbuster.
With Bad Samaritan, Devlin returns to feature directing. Only, this time the subject matter is a lower-budget dramatic thriller. Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) is a wannabe photographer who works a valet business with his buddy Derek (Carlito Olivero). To make ends meet, however, the two of them run scams using the cars that they park. While the customer is eating, one of them drives the car back to the customer’s home and steals from their house.
One night, Sean and Derek stumble upon the jackpot of victims in Cale Erendreich (David Tennant). Cale is a wealthy slimeball who drives a Maserati. When Sean gets into Cale’s house, he sees an unopened envelope containing a Black Card, which he activates and pockets. As Derek overtly says, it is the perfect score.
That is, until Sean stumbles upon the kidnapped woman tied up in Cale’s office. Stuck in a tough situation, Sean sacrifices his own legal status to help the woman. When the police are reluctant to help, though, Cale is able to close in on Sean and make his life a living nightmare.
Bad Samaritan is not the most original plot in the books. In fact, much of it borders on the conventional, especially when you see the lackluster efforts of the police that are only so lackluster when put on the silver screen.
The filmmaking choices, most often, are not the slickest, either. There are a number of shot sequences that feel out of order, where two cross-cut lines of action are not taking place simultaneously as they are meant to.
The tone, too, gets a tad too silly at times. As deliriously energetic as Tennant’s performance is, his villain character is an out-and-out cartoon character. He may as well be using Acme products to hunt down Sean. Tennant is the most fun aspect of the entire film, but he is also acting in a different film than the other characters who carry themselves with a dour seriousness.
The film is not perfect. Far from it. But there is some enjoyment to be had out of the campy menace of Tennant’s villain and the chase that is afoot. Trying to rationalize character’s actions are impossible in some instances and over-explained in others, as if the script is over-correcting, but the inconsistencies have a sort of roguish charm to them. The film doesn’t seem to care that it is rough around the edges.
Of course, this charm wears off as the gray-hued film pushes past the one-hour mark. The chase grows circular, leaving the climax to be too long-time-coming and too short for its own good. What one is left with, then, is an understanding that there wasn’t enough juice in the premise to take the plot across the finish line.
Bad Samaritan: C
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)