Monday, 28 May 2012

The Samaritan (2012)

"So whaddya say, baby? Shall I put on some Marvin Gaye?"
At a glance:
All Samuel L. Jackson movies are at least half watchable and this offbeat pulp fiction drops ever so neatly into that category - it jolts, it teases and then at the end credits you're left decidin whether this movie axiom remains true. The veteran anti-hero relishes the tag of bein one of Hollywood's most charismatic actors, a son of a gun who gets paid to shout at people, picture after picture. So when he's not in an eye-patch assemblin mutants to fight aliens, he's in The Samaritan (2012) playin an embattled ex-con (convict AND conman) who had just done a 25-year stretch, only to come out to a strange world populated by characters like Ethan (Luke Kirby), the son of the partner he murdered, and Iris (Ruth Negga) the enigmatic addict nympho who's got the hots for him. The hoverin crime boss Xavier (Tom Wilkinson) provides further intrigue.
Bad news on the doorstep:
Err... how do I say this? The Samaritan changes genre midway and there's a twist in the middle that beggars belief. Worse, it's been done before, so if I tell you which famous movie it's from, it will utterly spoil it for you. This twist is so pivotal and monolithic that entire scripts can be built around it, so it doesn't quite sit in with the rest of the various noir elements in the movie. Perhaps a hint of this iffy approach could be seen in Samuel L Jackson himself, who appears rather bored most of the time, despite also co-producin the movie. He's the master of persuasion and always makes his characters count but in this heist flick gone wrong, we really have to wonder why this story needed to be told. The film is shot by director David Weaver entirely in Toronto and that ain't exactly one of the first cities that come to mind when you're sellin a noir or heist.

Ruth Negga
fuck interracial
"You're old enough to be my father...
and that's how dirty I like it."
Perennial wonderment:
Why can't Ruth Negga get more roles outside of TV? She's the delectable Irish-Ethiopian beauty we saw in Breakfast On Pluto (2005) and that crazy cow horror Isolation (2005). Very Thandie Newton, perhaps with a more ethnic edge. Her looks here directly lent some credibility to movie logic and kept the movie from fallin apart. While we're talkin about looks, there's a small role here for Deborah Kara Unger. Don't know if her placid, botoxed look is part of the character but she sure don't look like the spring chicken she was back when she was gettin her kit off for Michael Douglas in The Game (1997).
Reminds me of:
You know I can't spoil it for you.
Watch out for:
When the big twist is given away. People were laughin out loud in my hall.
Most memorable line:
"If you keep on doing what you've always done, you keep on being what you've always been."
"You could always get a job at McDonald's or Walmart, honey."
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Two and a half, I'd say. Rushed endin drew disaffected faces at an advanced screenin I attended at AMC Yonge. On a partin note, the term "Samaritan" is a reference to a type of con, by which it succeeds when con artists get one person to pose as a helpful friend to the mark to gain his trust. Watch the video below for Samuel L Jackson's explanation.

Bonus material:
The Samuel L Jackson Venn Diagram.
[click to enlarge]
Kudos to the guy who thought of it.
In Samuel L Jackson's own words:
Why is it called the Samaritan?