Bad Samaritan

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Bad Samaritan Movie Poster Image
Interesting characters, situations in violent thriller.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Conjures up a very interesting "what would you do?" situation in which a person must decide whether to risk his own relative security to help someone who's in more danger. Movie doesn't make the decision easy, presents the issues in fascinating shades of gray that should make good discussion.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character is a burglar who gives in to a moment of cowardice, but otherwise, afterward, he's shown energetically trying to do the right thing and trying to repair his mistakes. He's shown to be kind to women (unlike the movie's villain). Some diversity in supporting cast.


Young woman imprisoned, locked to a chair, gagged; she's covered in bruises, cuts, welts. Another woman brutally mugged and thrown down stairs. A woman is fitted with an electrical zapping neck band. Guns and shooting. Characters shot and killed, with bloody wounds and pools of blood shown. Beatings with baseball bat, shovel, axe handle. Lots of dead bodies in a mass grave. Sounds of horse-whipping, screaming. Brief fighting/punching. Character nearly hit by moving car; dodges it.


A young woman briefly shows her breast. Kissing. Sex talk. A naked woman is covered by a towel and then drops the towel; side of her breast is shown briefly. Some sensual apparel/lingerie.


Very strong language throughout, including many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "pr--k," "t-tties," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "goddamn," "piss," "boobs," "arsehole," "ho," and "Jesus" and "Christ" (as exclamations).


Victoria's Secret and Maserati mentioned. Huge Red Bull poster.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two young men smoke pot in one scene. Adults drink beer at home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bad Samaritan is a violent thriller about a burglar (Robert Sheehan) who tries to rescue a woman who's been kidnapped by a psychopath (David Tennant). There's a brief scene of a man beating up a woman, as well as scenes that show a woman held prisoner, with bruises, cuts, and welts. Viewers will see plenty of blood: Characters use guns, and some are shot and killed. Dead bodies fill up a mass grave, and characters are beaten with baseball bats, axe handles, and shovels. An unsettling flashback uses sounds to indicate a boy killing a horse. In addition to the violence, a woman's naked breast is shown, and there's kissing and some sex talk. And language is strong throughout, with frequent use of both "f--k" and "s--t." Young men smoke pot, and adults drink beer. It's not exactly original, but it's well-made and gets by on fine characters and performances.

User Reviews

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Teen, 15 years old Written byCattyRevs August 31, 2020

What's the story?

In BAD SAMARITAN, Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) and his pal Derek (Carlito Olivero) run a small-time burglary scheme, posing as valet parkers and using GPS and garage door openers in the cars to gain access to homes. In the house of one particularly nasty customer, Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), Sean is horrified to discover a girl (Kerry Condon) who's been brutally beaten and locked to a chair. He tries to rescue her, but when Erendreich returns, Sean panics and leaves. Tormented by this decision, he makes several attempts to rescue the girl -- i.e., calling the police -- but no one believes him, and the sadistically clever Erendreich is very good at allaying suspicion. Worse, Erendreich begins tormenting Sean; Sean's girlfriend, Riley (Jacqueline Byers); and his family, making fake posts on social media and causing other havoc. When Riley is attacked, Sean realizes he must end this, one way or another.

Is it any good?

The idea behind this thriller isn't terribly fresh or original, but it works well enough thanks to Sheehan's relatable, believable, flawed hero and Tennant's terrifying psychopath. Director Dean Devlin, previously a screenwriter on Independence Day and the director of Geostorm, scales back from gargantuan, cosmic destruction in Bad Samaritan in favor of creating a realistic situation with its own history and nuances. The places and relationships in Bad Samaritan feel genuine. Despite Sean's career as a burglar and his panicked hesitation to help a person in jeopardy, he earns our trust back with his feverish attempts to right his wrong, as well as his background as a talented photographer who's wary of "selling out."

Tennant's performance is reminiscent of his work as the nasty Kilgrave on Jessica Jones; he brings a disconcerting level of class, education, and breeding to the vicious Erendreich -- he just makes your skin crawl. Written by Brandon Boyce (Apt Pupil, Wicker Park) in the vein of many 1990s thrillers, Bad Samaritan does occasionally make an aggravating mistake: Erendreich is too all-knowing, as if he's able to read minds or see everything at once. A great villain needs to have flaws, too, and most of the time, this one is just too perfect. Perhaps that could have been tightened up if Bad Samaritan hadn't been allowed to go on for 110 minutes -- but these quibbles ultimately don't dampen the movie's overall tense effect.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Bad Samaritan's violence. Is it meant to be thrilling or shocking? How can you tell? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How does the main character treat women, as opposed to the way the villain treats women? What do you think the movie is trying to say through that comparison?

  • How do you feel about Sean, given that he's a burglar and he succumbed to a moment of serious cowardice? Is he still relatable? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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