Always think twice before leaving your car with those valet boys. In Portland, Oregon, young Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) attempts to make a living as a freelance photographer. He refuses to be tied down to a boring corporate suite job, much to the chagrin of his father. At least he has the support of girlfriend Riley (Jacqueline Byers) to follow his dreams.
However, living in this world costs money, and Sean supplements being a photographer with valeting at a popular restaurant with best friend Derek (Carlito Olivero). Valeting is just a front though, as their real money is made by setting a waypoint and robbing the homes of the people who entrust them with their cars. On one night, their score looks to be huge when stacked businessman Cale Erendreich (David Tennant) comes through in a hot ride. As Sean goes about his routine, he discovers something sinister that puts not only his life in danger, but the ones he cares about.
Bad Samaritan is that film that begins pretty strong, but steadily declines as the runtime draws to a close. It’s as simple as that. At the very least, the sophomore feature directorial effort from Dean Devlin, the man known for the $120 million value play known as Geostorm , plays out a tad better than that one. Moral victory?
If the title wasn’t clear, Devlin’s movie is a morality play (sort of). He, along with writer Brandon Boyce, set up their story quite well in the first 30 or so minutes with a simple, yet attention-hooking, premise. The sleepy town of Portland, Oregon and the surrounding environment is perfect for the uncomfortable predicament Sean finds himself in, and Devlin has a few early scenes of good camerawork along with steady cinematographyby David Connell. The title alone would make Bad Samaritan fit in perfectly at 6pm on the Lifetime channel, but at least technically, it’s a little better than that fare. Try not to pay attention to the score, which feels like it belongs to a different movie.
Bad Samaritan begins with the makings of a fairly compelling thriller but eventually devolves into a pseudo-horror by the second act and a downright dumb film regardless of genre by the final act with telegraphed jump scares, oblivious and/or inept characters, and farfetched scenarios. Truly, it does peak around the 30-minute mark, if only because there’s nowhere for it to go once the reveal is shown. Perhaps more importantly, Devlin and Boyce don’t do enough to general emotional attachment to the lead character of Sean, and his “flip the switch” moment from doing mostly bad to becoming a committed and ethical guy happens in roughly ten seconds doesn’t come off as authentic. Even by the end, the feeling is had that he’s not a changed guy because he wants to be, but rather by association with who he’s dealing with.
It’s not likely that Bad Samaritan will be the movie that catapults its young stars into better work. While the writing doesn’t allow for much character meat, most of the cast is as sleepy in their roles as the setting of Portland is, having little charisma to overcome their characters’ lack of likability (Sheehan and Olivero, mainly). But you know who has an abundance of charisma? David Tennant, single-handedly making this film semi-interesting as the quality dips. As it is playoff time in the NBA, one could make the simile that his performance is LeBron-esque; a one-man show who does it all himself and raises his squad’s performance just because they share the same space. From his awesome introduction, Tennant has almost a sixth sense in his performance with the ebb and flow of Bad Samaritan; he starts out realistic and sharp and ends up hammy and idiotic, as does the film.
If there were one sole reason to view this, it would be for Tennant. Still, despite his devilishly fun, put-the-team-on-his-back effort, Bad Samaritan is not quite worthy of your patronage.
Photo credits go to pastemagazine.com, hollywoodreporter.com, and themississippilink.com
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