Monday, August 13, 2018

Movie Review: Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan ** / *****
Directed by: Dean Devlin.
Written by: Brandon Boyce.
Starring: David Tennant (Cale Erendreich), Robert Sheehan (Sean Falco), Kerry Condon (Katie), Jacqueline Byers (Riley Seabrook), Lisa Brenner (Helen Leyton), Hannah Barefoot (Sabine), Dana Millican (Officer Anne Pickett), Emily Kimball (Girlfriend #1), Carlito Olivero (Derek Sandoval), Rob Nagle (Don Falco), Tracey Heggins (FBI Agent Olivia Fuller), Brandon Boyce (FBI Supervisor), Delpaneaux Wills (Officer Aguilar), Tony Doupe (Det. Wayne Banyon).
There’s a line near the end of Bad Samaritan when one character yells at another “THAT is how you save some” which is clearly the best moment in the entire film, and shows the kind of sense of humor that the rest of the film is missing. The film is a rather goofy thriller/horror film, that despite its grisly subject matter, should be a hell of a lot more fun than it actually is, mainly I think because no one really seems to agree on just what kind of film this should really be.
In the film, Robert Sheehan plays Sean Falco, an Irish immigrant, who is a starving artist, making ends meet by being a valet at a fancy restaurant. He and his partner don’t just make their money parking the cars, but instead what they do is go to their homes as they eat, and steal some of their belongings. They aren’t stupid – they don’t clean them out – they just take enough that they hope won’t be noticed – at least not right away – so they keep up their scam. One night, they target the wrong guy. This is Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), who arrives in a fancy car, so of course, Sean goes to his house. He finds some stuff to steal – and then he finds more. A girl, chained up, in one of the rooms. He tries to free her, but then his partner starts calling – the guy wants his car back. He has leave. He’ll spend most of the rest of the film trying to convince people of what he saw, while Cale spends the rest of the film trying, and succeeding, to ruin Sean’s life.
The film was directed by Dean Devlin, who has most of his career producing blockbusters, before trying to direct one himself last year with Geostorm (I skipped that one). He doesn’t really have the feel for a movie like Bad Samaritan, which is essentially an exploitation film, that should probably be grislier and grimy than Devlin seems willing or able to make it. He never quite nails the tone – and it shows in the performance. Tennant is going wildly over the top – he’s practically unhinged, and it’s the type of performance you either love or hate. I admire that’s going for it, without every really being convinced of it. The rest of the cast seems more interested in making things believable – which they so clearly aren’t, that it was the wrong decision.
The film takes many twists and turns in its narrative, and most aren’t really all that well plotted – and all the characters who aren’t Cale or Sean are given nothing beyond the most basic things to do. Occasionally – like the finale – the film finds the right over the top notes and tone, and it comes to a satisfying conclusion. But overall, Bad Samaritan takes too long to really get going, and only really gets things right in the last 20 minutes or so. Until then, it’s mainly an unsatisfying slog.

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