Directed by: Dean Devlin
Premise: While burglarizing an upper class home, the robber (Robert Sheehan) discovers a woman (Kerry Condon) being held captive. He tries to free her without implicating himself in a crime and becomes the target of the abductor.
What Works: Bad Samaritan begins with an intriguing set up. Two young men run a valet service at a fancy restaurant. They use the vehicle’s GPS system to go to the owner’s home, enter the house through the automated garage door, and take small items without leaving a trace. It’s a creative scam that is just plausible enough. The film also benefits from some lead actors who are much better than this material. Robert Sheehan plays an aspiring photographer who supplements his income with boosted goods and Sheehan is a likable presence. He’s able to make the outlandish story somewhat credible and his concern for the captive woman and his guilt about failing to help her aids this movie considerably. Also notable is Carlito Olivero as the other larcenist. He’s a likable and natural actor and Olivero is well paired with Sheehan.
What Doesn’t: There are a lot of problems with Bad Samaritan. For one, it looks ugly. The whole movie is shot with a grey and under lit color palate the looks murky instead of moody. The story moves forward in fits and starts. It begins well but the movie lacks momentum. There is little feeling of escalation. That partly because this story begins with an unlikely premise and then gets stupider and stupider. Robert Sheehan’s character breaks into a home and discovers the owner is a psychopath who keeps a woman tied to a chair. Instead of freeing her or using the home phone to call 9-1-1 he panics and leaves only to return to the house later that night in a foiled attempt to sic law enforcement on the abductor. When that doesn’t work the character makes a series of ever stupider decisions. The filmmakers attempt to cover for this by having the burglar acknowledge the inexplicability of his decisions and claim panic. But all this does is draw attention to the sloppy writing. As Bad Samaritan goes on it makes less and less sense. The characters go from one location to another without any motivation and show up in places for no reason. The villain discovers that this young man is onto him. Instead of killing Sheehan’s character or evading him, the villain instead starts messing with the hero’s life, destroying his relationships and getting his parents fired from their jobs. How he’s doing this is never explained probably because the filmmakers have no idea. The abductor of Bad Samaritan is played by David Tennant who is especially bad in this. He’s supposed to be scary but whenever Tennant turns up the evil he’s just cartoonish. The film offers a psychosis that’s supposed to explain why he’s doing this but it’s dumb and reductive. Also wasted in Bad Samaritan is Kerry Condon as the imprisoned woman. Condon is a terrific actress but this role is beneath her. She isn’t asked to do anything and the character doesn’t resist being held captive even though her jailer isn’t very imposing.
Bottom Line: Bad Samaritan is a stupid film. It’s poorly thought out, lazily written, and terribly directed.
Episode: #698 (May 13, 2018)