In this new film by Dean Devlin called «Bad Samaritan» we meet Sean, an Irish immigrant that dabbles in photography with artistic aspirations, and that also uses his job as a parking valet at a restaurant with his friend Derek to break into the houses of some of their customers. Using an interesting system to pick their targets and stealing only things that can go unnoticed for some time, Sean decides to break into the house of Cael Erendreich, a snobbish customer that also owns a luxurious Maserati. Being guided by his friend Derek on the phone, Sean finds several objects that could allow him to quit this side job, but his plans get smashed when Sean accidentally discovers that Erendreich has a girl captive, and that he might be even torturing her. Trying to not get caught by the house’s owner, but noticing some scary tools that makes clear that the girl might not have much time left to live, Sean flees the place, promising her to come back with help.
Feeling awful for leaving the girl at the house, but aware that he might go to jail or even being deported due his criminal activities, Sean makes an anonymous call to the police hoping that the girl will be found and rescued, but as you might guess Erendreich not only has a good alibi to avoid any suspicion by the police, but also when Sean and Derek get into his house again, there is no trace of the girl ever being there. Here is when a dangerous game of cat an mouse starts, since Erendreich is not only aware that someone is meddling with his fun, but also learns about the young men identities and decides to mess up their lives little by little, putting them in danger also their loved ones, knowing very well that the police won’t believe them if they ask for help.
«Bad Samaritan» is a film with a simple, but very interesting premise, and one of its strengths is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor is pretentious. The concept about a burglar trying to redeem himself confronting a way more dangerous criminal in order to save an innocent life reminded me a little bit of «The Collector», but without the gore and taking a route more in line with the remake of «Cape Fear» and other thrillers of the 90’s. Still, the film manages to bring something new to the table, have its own feel and deliver a fun thriller that takes several unexpected turns.
The performance by David Tennant (one of my favorites Dr Who’s incarnations) as the eccentric and psychotic Cael Erendreich was very good, but felt unbalanced at times. in my opinion it worked better when we see the cold, calculating side of Erendreich than when we see his explosive side. Robert Sheehan’s work as Sean was also good, but I had trouble connecting with his character, while I can understand his «struggling artist» stance, I did not see any real reason for his «F- The system» attitude, or why he needed to be such a jerk to his stepfather, specially when he is offering him a job a as a professional PAID photographer.
Now that I mentioned Sean’s stepfather, I was glad to see that he was not the drunk, wife-beating, child abusing cliche character, later in the film we see that he is actually a responsible family man, ready to take care of his family (yes, even Sean) when things get dangerous. Another thing that I liked about the film was there were times where it could have fall into very well known cliches and become predictable, but the story went to a different direction every time, and while not all the choices worked for me, I found them interesting. There are several things about the modus operandi that Sean and Derek use in their crimes that felt very well documented and made me think about start using even more complex passwords and wonder about what information we might be leaving on the open without thinking.
And now we get to the negatives: There are a couple of characters that seemed to be important to the story, but contribute very little (if anything) at the end. Maybe they could have been used a little bit more (just to mention one, the detective) but doing so could also made the film fall into those cliche moments that I mentioned earlier, so I think we can let it go this time. however, that brings us to other issues: The run time and the pacing.
The movie runs for almost 1 hour and 50 minutes, and while at first seemed to have a strong start, it takes too long to get to the main conflict, and shortly after the 50 minute mark the pacing starts to drag and feel heavy. It gets better and stronger around the third act, but I think it doesn’t close the story as strong as it could have. Even with this flaws, «Bad Samaritan» is an entertaining film and is worth watching twice.
«Bad Samaritan» was directed by Dean Devlin (Geostorm) and written by Brandon Boyce (Apt Pupil, Wicker Park) with David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, Jacqueline Byers and Carlito Olivero in the cast.
The film will be released on theaters May 4th, 2018 via Electric Entertainment.