May 2, 2018 Bad Samaritan (Movie Review)
One constant in American cultural life is that when it comes to the wealthiest among us, people either love or hate them. Middle-class Americans will watch them on TV or read about them on the internet. They will either be enamored by opulence and its benefits or loathe its slow degradation of society for everyone else.
Set for nationwide release in theaters Friday, May 4, 2018 via Electric Entertainment, Bad Samaritan is a morally ambiguous tale of a clash between these two strata of society. Producer/Director Dean Devlin (The Librarians series, Geostorm 2017) is the man behind the camera. Devlin’s film is a dark, somewhat over-the-top look into the idea of entitlement in 2018.
Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones 2013, Geostorm 2017) seems a normal kid in his 20s. He is not sure what he wants to do outside of follow his artistic interest in photography. To pay the bills, he and his friend Derek (Carlito Olivero: Modern Family series, Step Up: High Water series) work as valets at a local restaurant. Innocent enough, right?
The thing is that is a front. When customers arrive driving vehicles that scream “money,” the two friends take turns driving said vehicles back to their homes using GPS. There they rip off the unsuspecting patrons as they dine.
Everyone is on Sean’s case about what he plans to do with his life. His mother, an Irish immigrant, and stepfather. His girlfriend Riley (Jacqueline Byers: The Strain series, Salvation series). Everyone has something to say about Sean. He truthfully does deserves the questioning. No one knows the scam he is running on the side and, even worse, it does not seem he has much of a problem stealing… at first.
Enter Cale Erendreich (David Tennant: Doctor Who series, Jessica Jones series). Erendreich is an extremely wealthy man who rolls up to the restaurant in a Maserati and immediately gives an attitude to the boys. Sean takes the car with no hesitation. Once inside Erendreich’s swanky pad, he discovers quite a bit more than he bargained for in the form of a chained, gagged woman named Katie (Kerry Condon: Rome series, Better Call Saul series). This Cale Erendreich is not just a rich jerk; he is a psychotic killer.
Bad Samaritan is a story pitting a lousy cheat of a twenty-something versus a madman murderer. Even better, Erendreich’s wealth is revealed to be the result of a trust fund. So it is a 25-or-so-year old brat who does not want to work facing off against an entitled wealthy brat who has never had to. Flip a coin on who to side with. That in mind, Bad Samaritan is not a groundbreaking film. Devlin and Writer Brandon Boyce (Apt Pupil 1998, Venom 2018) have plotted out the story smartly, though. It is a tense cat and mouse game that sees Erendreich use all of his power to ruin the lives of Sean Falco and everyone he cares about. The challenge is in whether or not Falco has it in him to overcome his lousy attitude to fight back.
Falco has to earn the audience’s investment. Erendreich, however, revels in being repulsive. Since he has always gotten away with everything in his pampered life, he clearly feels can continue to do so without trouble. His insanity becomes clear as his plans for Katie unfold. He has a code, just as Sean has a code. Both man and boy have “moral” centers. It is just that the boy is not killing women like animals to create a purely subjective sense of “order.”
Additionally, the acting is pretty good with David Tennant clearly enjoying himself playing the sadistic Cale Erendreich. Robert Sheehan brings it as well as Sean Falco, the ne’er do well with “artistic” intentions. He is the film’s titular “bad Samaritan.” Kerry Condon evokes so much with just her eyes as the imprisoned Katie.
Overall, Bad Samaritan is a good time at the movies. Do some of the obstacles thrown Sean’s way feel a little over the top? Yes. This is also a film that forces Sean to deal with the consequences of the life he has chosen. That is where the central conflict lies and that is why Sean becomes more and more determined to help Katie. As the story progresses, Devlin himself seems determined to encourage a certain response from his audience. In other words, it is clear where he stands as far as the “cultural” conflict is concerned.
Some of the plot choices do feel a little labored. Some are definitely less realistic and more “movie logic.” That being said, Bad Samaritan still offers a movie experience that is intense and thrilling at times. For this, CrypticRock give this film 3 out of 5 stars.