Cast: David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, Carlito Olivero
Director: Dean Devlin
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: A valet (Robert Sheehan) develops a clever scam to burglarize the houses of rich customers. Things go smoothly until he robs the wrong customer (David Tennant), and discovers a woman being held captive in his home. Afraid of going to prison, he leaves the woman there and makes a call to the police, who find nothing when they investigate. Now, the valet must endure the wrath of the kidnapper who seeks revenge on him, all while desperately trying to find and rescue the captive woman he left behind.
Bad Samaritan is the type of movie that realistically we have all seen before. It follows the basic story structure that most if not all thrillers follow and for the most part is predictable. However, there are two things that separate this film from many of the other failed attempts to make an interesting thriller. A combination of a well-made script and an ensemble of characters that are fun to root for and against elevate Bad Samaritan above the pack of mediocrity onto a level of an entertaining and exhilarating thriller.
The film follows Sean (Sheehan), a valet who breaks into his clients houses while they are dining to score anything of value to get by. One night, he breaks into the house of a wealthy narcissist Cale (Tennant), and in his house discovers a woman named Katie (Condon) being held hostage in Cale’s house. Sean now faces the moral dilemma of how to fix a situation that he only discovered due to his illegal actions and must deal with the fallout from his decision-making and the impact it has on him and the people he cares about. That leads me to one of the things I felt was strong about the film and that was the emotional connection I felt towards the characters. I genuinely felt bad about the things that were happening to Sean and Katie and truly wanted them to get out of their situations. This type of connection is what separates a good thriller from a bad thriller. I have seen my fair share of thrillers where I do not care about what the well-being of the protagonists and all of the clichés that they are involved in, and even though Bad Samaritan has its tired moments, the ability to showcase the feeling of dread is a pleasant surprise. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I was incredibly intrigued by Cale as the antagonist. While he is no Hannibal Lecter, the story runs through Cale and his actions and every time you think he is going to get caught, he finds a clever way to slip away from his problems. The only issue I had with him was how ridiculous some of his actions towards Sean were. I get that Cale is a powerful man with a lot of money, but I cannot believe he can get certain things done in the short timeframe that he has. He can do massive, life-altering actions within a few hours and it kind of takes away any sense of realism that existed. Other than that, Tennant delivers an incredibly captivating performance that makes you despise him and want him to get caught, but at the same time you want to see if he can actually pull off his string of ridiculous moments. The main problem I had with the script was when they try to explain Cale’s backstory. They show a moment from his childhood that lead to him becoming the sadist he is today, but apparently there were no consequences from that action. There is no way a young child could commit an action like that and get away with it as well as maintain his financial status that allows him to commit the atrocities he commits. I understand there is supposed to be a suspension of disbelief, but I honestly believe this could have been one of the few examples where we did not need a backstory for the antagonist. I was more immersed in whether or not he could not pull off the deeds he set out to commit and was more than satisfied with the opening scene and the symbolism that followed throughout.
Overall, Bad Samaritan avoids many of the pitfalls that plague thrillers and serves as a decent addition to the genre. A solid script and characters that you can actually care about drive the plot and make it so you enjoy the journey along the way. While it still has its problems (including a seriously over-the-top deus ex machina), Bad Samaritan is a solid movie that does enough things right to be fun, exciting time.
Overall Score: 6.5/10