Samuel L Jackson Puts The Sam Into THE SAMARITANJune 08, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: THE SAMARITAN (IFC Films).
A week doesn’t go by that Sam Jackson doesn’t turn up in another movie. Careening wildly from big-budget studio flicks to indie curios to paycheck dreck (MEETING EVIL, UNTHINKABLE, CLEANER, etc.), Jackson seems to love working – either that, or he has a ludicrously high monthly nut. The latest flick from the highest-grossing actor in the business (it’s true, look it up) is an icy indie from Canada called THE SAMARITAN.
Jackson tamps down the bluster that often turns his performances into parody to play Foley, newly released and determined to go straight after doing a twenty-year stretch for murder. As often happens in such situations, the actual trip along traveling the right path is littered with such impediments as drug-addled strippers, mob kingpins, and relatives of the murder victim.
Full of double crosses and lurid revelations, the screenplay, co-written by Elan Mastai and director David Weaver, leads Foley, somewhat incongruously, back to the very life he is attempting to escape – as an accomplice in a convoluted and overheated grift known as “the Samaritan.”
As adept as Weaver is in keeping his star’s histrionics to a minimum, he is equally successful at creating a tension and twists throughout the film. THE SAMARITAN, like its con-game forbears, is a straw house in a strong wind, only one strong gust away from falling apart. It’s to Weaver’s credit that the film makes it to its denouement intact.
A measure of the credit for that has to go to the supporting cast, led by Tom Wilkinson (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL), whose naturally avuncular nature is buried in his spot-on performance as a ruthless crime boss. Canadian stalwarts Gil Bellows (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) and Deborah Kara Unger (88 MINUTES) make the most of their time onscreen, as two allies(?) of Foley.
It would be nice to say that whatever an old pro such as Jackson appears in is at least worth a look, but due to his hyperdrive output, it just ain’t the case. But THE SAMARITAN proves that, with a tidy script and a sure-handed director, the man behind Jules Winnfield, Mace Windu, and Nick Fury can still bring it. An action-rich scam story with the tasty whiff of a potboiler mystery, THE SAMARITAN doesn’t tip its hand and keeps you guessing until the mark is taken.
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com
THE SAMARITAN (IFC Films) can be found on your cable's system's movies on demand section.
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