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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Man, society can really harsh your mellow.

Sean knows all about the whole American bougie lifestyle. He sees it in his girlfriend—a business major, of all things. He sees it in his stepfather, who keeps encouraging him to get a real job and stuff. He sees it in all the well-heeled diners whose cars he parks. Sure, those BMWs and Range Rovers are nice and all, but you have to sell your soul to The Man to pay for 'em. That's not Sean's scene.

No, man, Sean's an artist, a photographer who can digitally filter shots with the best of them. Granted, the only person who really appreciates his talent right now is Riley, his beautiful muse. But what real artist doesn't suffer for his craft at first? He's not going to sell out, bow to society's rigid dictates, just to make a buck.

Still, bucks are important—at least for now, while America clings to its capitalist myths and all. He's got rent to pay. Food to buy. Pot to smoke. He and his best friend, Derek, earn a little cash from their valet business, parking cars while their clients eat at one of Portland's swanky Italian restaurants. But they make most of their cabbage the old-fashioned way: They steal it. While the valets' customers are pigging out on their parmigiana or lasagna or whatever, Derek and Sean take their cars, go to their houses and swipe whatever they think their diners' won't immediately miss: watches, rings, phones, grocery coupons, that sort of thing.

It's not legal, obviously, but Sean and Derek don't feel too bad about their side game. After all, anyone who owns a Mercedes or Hummer deserves to get robbed, they reason.

Then this guy in a Maserati drives up—obviously a real jerk. He hands Sean the car keys as he throws some f-word-laden shade at him: Yeah, this guy is practically begging to be robbed. Sean hops in the car, checks the Maserati's on-dash list of destinations and finds the jerk's house, just three minutes away. He drives over and hits the jackpot almost immediately—a freshly-mailed Black Card, just waiting to be activated. Sean flops on the jerk's bed and does exactly that, using the jerk's phone.

Then he spies something: a door with a lock that looks like it belongs in Fort Knox. He rifles through the jerk's keys—he keeps a dozen on his keyring—finds the right one and opens the door.

A woman sits, bound in chains and leather. Gagged. Obviously terrified. Obviously doomed … unless Sean can find a way to free her.

Oh, and also (Derek notifies him from the restaurant three minutes away), the jerk is done with dinner and is ready for his car, thanks ever so much.

But Sean can't just leave the girl there, can he?

The woman's chains hold tight: The only key hangs 'round the jerk's neck. So Sean sprints to the garage, finds some bolt cutters and discovers the jerk's operation/dismemberment room along the way. Thoroughly freaked now, Sean gallops back upstairs … and sees a sliver of light glowing from underneath the office door. Seems that the jerk has a smart home. And while he's waiting for the valet to retrieve his Maserati, he's remotely checking on his bound "guest."

"I'm sorry," Sean whispers to the closed door. With bolt cutters still in hand, he dashes down to the garage, hops in the Maserati and peels back to the restaurant, leaving the woman behind.

Positive Elements

Sean's early decisions in Bad Samaritan leave a lot to be desired, which he later admits. "I balked," he says, adding that it was the worst decision of his life. But to Sean's credit, he does his best to make up for that really bad decision. He contacts the police, the FBI and—when those avenues seem to come up empty—he tries to rectify the situation himself.

All of those steps involve quite a bit of risk, incidentally. He goes to the police, even though he knows he'll likely be thrown in the clink himself for robbing the guy's house. And obviously, it's never exactly wise to pursue a pathological killer on one's own initiative. Getting involved at all puts some other people in peril, too, but he knows it's the right thing—the only moral thing, really—to do. And in that respect, he's correct.

Sean's stepfather has a nice moment, too. While Sean doesn't have much affinity for the man, he belatedly realizes that the guy always tried to teach Sean to do the "right thing." And when Sean tells his stepdad that the right thing means risking his own life, the stepfather balks himself. "I have to protect my family," he says. "That includes you."

Spiritual Content

The title, obviously, riffs off perhaps Jesus' best-known parable. And we see a cross hanging on a wall. Outside of those Christian allusions, spiritual references here are … dubious.

Riley knocks on Sean's door and jokingly tells Sean that she wants to talk to him "about the Lord." When Sean says that's not really his thing, she says, "How 'bout I jump your bones?"

Sexual Content

We partly see the ensuing scene: The two kiss and make out a bit. There's some breast nudity and an explicit picture of Riley snapped with a smartphone that lands on social media (which we see a couple of times), leading to a great deal of angst.

The movie suggests that the jerk—whose real name seems to be Cale Erendeich—makes a habit of keeping women chained and submissive. His current captive, named Katie, drops her towel in front of him at one point (revealing her bare and whip-scarred back to the camera). Cale angrily tells her to get dressed and go to bed.

We hear screams coming from his house at one juncture, just as police (called in by Sean) come a-calling. The police talk with a bathrobe-wearing Cale who, we discover, has another female companion, one who's wearing a short trench coat and fishnet stockings. The insinuation is that the two were engaged in some sort of loud consensual sexual activity when the police came by: Cale and his paramour kiss before she leaves.

Derek wants to keep a phone stolen from an elderly victim because it might contain pictures of the woman's breasts. We hear a reference to a "dirty limerick."

Violent Content

Cale obviously beat Katie before chaining her up in his office: Bruise marks cover her body, and (as mentioned) scars slash her back. He puts an electrified leather collar on her—one that'll shock her if she screams. (She does, and it does.)

We see plenty of evidence suggesting what Cale eventually plans to do with Katie: His in-house operating room is filled with knives, power tools and stray spots of blood. He owns a cabin outside town, too, where a covered pit is lined with the bodies of his prey. He pours a bunch of lye into the pit in preparation to dissolve his next victims. We see dead faces and skeletal remains in the pit's dirt walls.

In flashback, we see Cale's brutal beginnings. As an adolescent, he whips a horse mercilessly as someone screams in the background that he'll kill the animal if he continues. Then we see the young Cale point a gun, aim it at the camera and pull the trigger. (The FBI later says he was 14 at the time, and that he killed both the horse and its twentysomething trainer.)

People are beaten with baseball bats, axe handles and shovels, often leaving their recipients very bruised and bloody. (One guy's eye is swollen shut from the repeated blows to his face, and a few folks are knocked cold.) One woman has her head repeatedly slammed into a brick wall and is then thrown off a ledge. She winds up in a hospital.

Two people are shot in the head. One dies instantly from the wound: We see blood and gore nearby, the bullet hole in the temple and blood pooling around the cranium. Another shooting victim survives, apparently no worse for wear. We hear of an apparent murder-suicide that claimed the lives of three people.

Derek gets into a melee with rival valets. A dog chases and menaces a would-be burglar. We hear that Sean's mom, a nurse, was suspended for allegedly assaulting a child. (The accusations are untrue.) Derek worries that if he's sent to prison, his family's history will get him killed there.

Crude or Profane Language

About 80 f-words and more than 25 s-words. We also hear "a--," "b--ch," "b--tard," "h---", "p-ss" and "t-tty." Jesus and God's names are misused about 10 times each, with the latter thrice paired with "d--n."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Sean and Derek smoke marijuana, and Sean expresses distain for the traditional working world because his employers would make him take drug tests. Cale and others drink wine and beer.

Other Negative Elements

Obviously, Sean and Derek rob people—something most folks would frown upon, no matter what sort of car the victims may drive. (Sean gives a stolen ring to his mother for her birthday.) We also learn that Sean's accumulated a pretty extensive list of misdemeanors in his past, too. He eventually repents of it all, it should be noted: "I'm not [going to] so much as steal a pack of gum for the rest of my life," he says. But he does lie to police about Derek's involvement in the matter to protect Derek from potential jail time.

Cale lies often and frames several people in Sean's life as punishment for his interference: His father-in-law gets fired for stealing office equipment, and we've already talked about Sean's mother.

Conclusion

Bad Samaritan subtly feints in the direction of being a cautionary tale—one targeted at Millennials by a storyteller who tells kids most afternoons to get off his lawn.

Sean, aimless and irresponsible, discovers the error of his misspent youth; realizes the importance of responsibility; and develops a new appreciation for his gruff, bourgeoisie stepfather. For Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who have to work for a living and have told the youngsters to cut their hair and get a job, this might feel, on some level, like finger-pointing validation. "See, this is what can happen to you if you don't go to school and spend all your money on drugs," they might say. "You could lose everything you love and get nearly beaten to death by a psychopath with a shovel!"

But obviously, the movie's positives, such as they are, can only stretch so far. Bad Samaritan is a bad film—one that if we came across on the side of the road, we might do well to walk on by.

The movie has plenty of violence and sexual content to consider. Because of the killer's own strange predilections, it feels even more objectionable than it technically is. And even if you're more of the sort of reader who'll excuse all sorts of bad content for a good story, consider this: Bad Samaritan has the supposedly brilliant killer hunting for would-be victims in a forest filled with freshly fallen snow—staring intently to the left, the right, and straight ahead without ever glancing at the ground. You know, to check for footprints in the snow.

Sometimes, a movie is worth shelling out some hard-earned cash for. But in this case, this is money best saved.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Robert Sheehan as Sean Falco; David Tennant as Cale Erendeich; Kerry Condon as Katie; Jacqueline Byers as Riley Seabrook; Carlito Olivero as Derek Sandoval

Director

Dean Devlin ( )

Distributor

Electric Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

May 4, 2018

On Video

August 14, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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