I have to give Bad Samaritan credit for being truly an original work, at least in the sense that sense that it’s not based on anything else. It’s not based on something in a different medium; it’s not a prequel, sequel or reboot to anything else. That’s got to count for something, right? I wish it did. Bad Samaritan has forced me to realize that the best movies of this year were based on something else. Annihilation and Ready Player One? Based on books. Black Panther? Comic Books. I might have to come around on my views on the recycling of ideas. At least if you base a movie on a book, you know that that book was vetted and edited before it was published. Bad Samaritan could have done with some vetting and editing.
A pair of burglars stumble upon a woman being held captive in a home they intended to rob.
Bad Samaritan had a great premise – thief robbing a house comes across someone held prisoner? That’s a lot of potential. And there were some great lines and great moments. One line near the end was (almost) worth the price of admission. But these moments have to be connected by other good moments and they definitely were not. Bad Samaritan is badly in need of a rewrite. This felt like a script someone would write for a college assignment, full of promising moments that don’t actually lead anywhere. And it was almost two hours long. There’s not enough movie to fill 1 hour 50 minutes; there’s barely enough to fill 90 minutes.
This movie was not subtle in its plot devices. If you’re going to use a plot device, it should be done carefully enough that the audience reacts to the device itself BEFORE realizing that you have employed said device. Take misogyny, for example, one of the most over-used devices in Bad Samaritan. I have no problem using misogyny as a plot device, something that makes villains truly loathsome and says something about how our society allows it to happen. That’s great for a moral lesson. But that’s not what happened here. There was no higher sociological truth, no psychological insight. The villain’s hatred of women was there only to increase the suspense and make us hate him more. There’s no more complexity than that; Bad Samaritan was not a study in characters. And the closest thing to having a ‘message’ is that if you encounter someone tied up in a house, rescue them right away because however scary it is, it’s more trouble later on.
I could keep complaining about the writing, but I should mention how much I liked the acting. I’ve always loved Robert Sheehan. I couldn’t bring myself to care about his character much – he was absolutely incompetent except as a photographer which had no real bearing on the plot. Without Robert Sheehan this would have been much worse, he made the character pretty lovable. David Tennant was also masterful. He was cold and creepy and absolutely believable, which was no mean feat given how unlikely some of the scenarios were. Carlito Olivero was also very good, so handsome! There was so much potential fan service here, sadly undelivered.
So is Bad Samaritan worth watching? No it is not. If you want to see David Tennant as a villain (and I recommend you do) then you should watch Jessica Jones. If you want to see more of Robert Sheehan, I loved him in misfits. I always feel writing a bad review. Even the worst movie has talented people who worked very hard. But Bad Samaritan did not hook me; it was forgettable even as I was watching it.