Monday, 20 March 2023

‘Samaritan’ dystopian action; Subway ride can be weird


You’ve seen men wearing a T-shirt or ball cap that says “Old Guys Rule” and yet, none of them hardly ever has the physical prowess of Liam Neeson, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone.

“Old Guys Rule” might as well be the title of Stallone’s aging superhero film “Samaritan” in which his character of Joe Smith may not exactly measure up to the standard of someone who helps a stranger, or at least not without some prodding.

Does it seem like a stretch for septuagenarian Stallone to be playing an aging vigilante who can easily toss a grown man across a room? Who has time to think about this when the action gets fast-paced?

Though it seems incredible that a man of Stallone’s age could be convincing in the way that superheroes half as old so easily pummel adversaries into a pile of human debris. Yet, he’s not gone flabby, and maybe that’s because his day job as a garbage man requires heavy lifting.

The introduction of Amazon Prime’s “Samaritan” has a lot of quick cuts of animation inspired by a graphic novel. The setting is Granite City, a dystopian hellscape that’s moving inevitably toward out-of-control chaos and looting.

Twenty-five years earlier, twin brothers Samaritan and Nemesis were so freakishly strong that the residents of Granite City grew to fear them and retaliated by trying to burn them alive by setting their house on fire.

The twins were unscathed, but their parents did not survive. At this point, Samaritan grew to fight as a protector of the innocent, while Nemesis, consumed by revenge, wanted the world to suffer.

Nemesis forged a powerful weapon in a hammer that he poured all his hate and rage into. His armament was like Thor’s, but his purpose was malicious. This was the only weapon that could destroy his sworn enemy, Samaritan.

Eventually, the brothers engaged in mortal combat at a warehouse that was consumed by a raging fire, and it was presumed that both of them perished, or at least, that’s the story for the citizens of Granite City.

Local journalist and bookshop owner Albert Castler (Martin Starr) has written a book about Samaritan that delves into conspiracy theories and speculation that the freakishly strong Samaritan is still alive.

A true believer of Samaritan’s earthly existence is 13-year-old Sam Cleary (Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton), who suspects that his mysterious and withdrawn neighbor Mr. Smith is actually the legend hiding in plain sight.

Living in a tenement with his single mom Tiffany (Dascha Polanco), Sam is frequently bullied by local thugs led by the heavily tattooed Reza (Moises Arias) who goes so far that Mr. Smith intervenes, causing the kid to believe that he’s found Samaritan.

Meanwhile, a psychotic gang leader named Cyrus (Pilou Asbaek), a worshiper of supervillain Nemesis, decides to incite a street rebellion of rioting and arson to entice intervention from Samaritan.

Coming as no surprise to anyone, the reclusive Mr. Smith is inexorably drawn to the fight, though getting to that point requires a test of his patience with the inquisitive Sam who goes so far as invading his apartment in search of clues.

Because this kind of film calls for escapist fare, the climactic showdown between Samaritan and the wannabe Nemesis seems much like a live-action replay of the introductory graphic novel animation.

Even though a streaming service like Amazon Prime may have a decent budget, “Samaritan” is nevertheless a B-movie that may be forgettable the next day but in the moment of its urban chaos and violence offers entertainment value for action fans.


This column is about entertainment, and diversion can be found in places other than film and television. Who knew that riding the New York subway system, as I did on a recent trip, would offer amusement with its travel etiquette?

Handy guidelines appear on certain trains with an electronic reader. “Stay off the tracks” should be obvious to anyone. That’s a no-brainer. A better warning is not to stand too close to the platform.

The “Keep your hands and other parts to yourself” makes one wonder about lechers riding the rails. Avoid anyone wearing a trench coat during warm weather, or someone looking slightly crazed.

“Go before you go” is wise because even if you found a public bathroom in a subway station, the best warning would be “Enter at your own risk.”

“Don’t sell stuff without a permit” is widely ignored. Someone is bound to be selling packaged cookies or candy, or useless items like an 8-track player or VHS movies.

The one guideline of “Don’t smoke or set anything on fire” does have me worried. The ban on smoking is understandable, but has there been a rash of arsonist acts that should give one pause?

The subway is a great way to get to a Mets or Yankees game, but the best advice is to be alert and aware of your surroundings and don’t travel in the middle of the night.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Upcoming Calendar

03.21.2023 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
03.21.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
03.22.2023 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Collier Avenue housing project public meeting
03.23.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.23.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens
03.23.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Local hazard mitigation plan update
03.25.2023 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
03.27.2023 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Courting The Muse~Mixed Media Art Class
03.30.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
Middletown Art Center
03.30.2023 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Character Design~Art Class for Teens

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