Bad Samaritan review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
A common trope of the thriller genre is the need for the film to go off the rails with finding something tense and exciting when it comes to the tale of a killer. The thriller genre by itself is flawed in this aspect for trying to contort a character that can get away with enough crazy crimes. But there seems to be a desire with many to break out into a full-blown action film for how far they go. Bad Samaritan is, unfortunately, another victim of this formula, starting off compelling and interesting, only to resort to cheap and farfetched theatrics to pull our interest over the finish line, tired and stumbling.
It’s a story that has potential. Sean Falco and Derek Sandoval are two young guys working the valet at a restaurant and grow tired of parking the cars of such rich clients. Seeking some extra cash, they use their valet positions to use the in-car GPS and rob the homes of the owners before they’ve finished their meals. It seems to have been working out well until they decide to rob the wrong place with the rich patron of Cale Erendreich (David Tennant). The house Sean breaks into seems surprisingly empty. Too empty. And then when he finds his computer and checkbook, he happens upon a kidnapped woman in the corner. What to do? Does he go to the cops and risk going to jail to save this woman or does he forget about her and go about his robbery? Since Sean is the main character we want to like, he naturally decides to help her but won’t be able to when on the clock. And since Derek isn’t as sympathetic, he’ll argue against doing something about this discovery.
Sean’s new mission shifts from robberies to saving the girl and it proceeds a puzzling nature about how to go about proving Cale’s sinister nature. It’s not easy. After a police visit, the cops decide not to search Cale’s place with little evidence against him. Sean breaks inside again but finds no sign of Cale’s kidnapped woman and dungeon-like torture room. He’s got his work cut out for him. And Cale is clearly onto his game and tortures him by targeting his girlfriend and breaking into his place, taunting and teasing before moving in for the kill.
While build-up is certainly an interesting one, it takes an almost painfully predictable route which will eventually lead to Sean seeking out Cale’s secluded cabin with his hostage in tow. And this is where the suspension of disbelief has to kick into high gear to enjoy the spectacle of a missed gunshot, an odd plan to get rid of the evidence, and lots of cackling and monologuing before leading to a chase through the woods. You’ve gotta have a chase through the woods. Well, you don’t but they’re already shooting there and you have all those trees - might as well make the most of it.
But perhaps the most distracting aspect of the picture is David Tennant’s attempt to foster an American accent over his natural Scottish one, falling flat and odd during many scenes. Perhaps the most bizarre of readings comes from his climactic and taunting yells which seems to slip and slide all over the place of American accents. What would’ve been a neat twist is if Tennant’s character secretly Scottish the whole time, leading a double life in America after killing so many across the pond. It doesn’t sound too strange when compared to the other silly plot inclusions.
Bad Samaritan is such a stock thriller that rarely finds its way out of being anything more than passable. At one point Sean’s girlfriend bashes the killer with a shovel and screams comically “That’s how you rescue someone!” Except the killer will get back up because she didn’t double tap. Sorry, movie, you don’t get to mock convention when you can’t get over your own.