Rounding off my weeks watching, Dean Devlin’s taut cat-and-mouse thriller ‘Bad Samaritan’ is fully deserving of the weeks (unprecedented) 2nd 5-star review.
From the first act’s somewhat shocking opener, the tight-crafted story only seeks to escalate as our anti-hero Sean (Robert Sheehan) is engaged in a deadly battle of wits with the resourceful sociopath Cale Erendreich played by David Tennent of ‘Dr Who’ fame.
The plot opens as two petty thieves go about their business of burglary and scamming. Offering to valet at a local restaurant, the pair take advantage of their ‘customers’ dining engagements, driving the car back to the owners house and burglarising them. It seems to be paying off for them, despite Sean’s moral compass telling him he needs to stop, his partner Derek (Carlito Olivero) doesn’t have to try to hard to string him along for just one more job. On one such burglary he stumbles upon a woman held captive in the house of a very wealthy man. Hog-tied and beaten, he tries to help but his own unlawful presence means he has to make the call to leave her, and make his own escape. His conscience gets the better of him however, and he takes a photograph he intends to show the police.
What follows is a series of twists and turns as Sean becomes as much a victim of his own circumstance as he would at the hands of the relentless Cale – a man with a set of even further distorted morals, and the seemingly limitless resources a life of privilege would grant.
The plot, and I will avoid spoilers, establishes a high standard for itself early on and doesn’t let up. The constant twists and turns, coupled with a frighteningly feasible scenario really encapsulate what makes ‘thriller’ movies so engrossing. When you combine a well thought through plot, with well crafted set pieces, at equally appropriate spacing and pace, and stellar performances from the two leads ‘Bad Samaritan’ not only cements itself as one of the summers break-out festival hits, but one of my favourite 2018 new releases.
Already establishing himself on UK screens, Tennent, albeit an unlikely choice to play a deranged killer, plays a blinder here. His performance is measured throughout, with clever use of lighting and some well written one liners to bring the almost schizophrenic nature of his character to life. Whilst I wouldn’t want to take anything away from his performance, the other technical elements of this movie are so well accomplished that he would have had to try harder not to impress! His character ‘Cale’ is right up there with the most academic of nutters, and whilst he is unlikely to be remembered in infamy as say Harris’ Hannibal Lector, within the context of this film his brains over brawn approach gives him that larger than life edge, despite his very much normal demeanour.
Overall, and as I frequently find myself when reviewing thriller movies, I am in danger of spoiling something should I further my critique. As I hope our coverage would suggest, we would not be awarding full stars unless we were not blown away by the film – and I truly couldn’t get enough of ‘Bad Samaritan’. Admittedly, its ending perhaps began blur the line between entertainment value and feasibility, but it cannot detract from my enjoyment of the tense and engrossing story which led me there!