A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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 ...
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?
- In theaters: May 4, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: August 14, 2018
- Cast: Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, David Tennant
- Director: Dean Devlin
- Studio: Electric Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, language throughout, some drug use and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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