Samuel L. Jackson comes to DVD in the gritty 2012 crime-drama “The Samaritan.” Though its cast includes Tom Wilkinson and familiar faces Deborah Kara Unger and Martha Burns (from Canadian TV’s “Slings and Arrows”) in minor roles, this Canadian film first released in the UK doesn’t turn out as well as its overly serious intentions.
The story, if not all that original, is sound enough. Jackson plays a con man named Foley. Just released from prison after spending nearly half his life there, Foley’s and the movie’s good intentions want to see him go straight and start a brand new life. But his involvement with a troubled woman named Iris (Ruth Negga) and a nasty little big criminal wannabe named Ethan (Luke Kirby) complicate matters. Throw in Wilkinson as a ruthless gangster and possible big score mark, mix with blackmail and violence and the stage is set for bad things to happen.
The biggest problem with the movie is its belabored filmmaking. “The Samaritan” wants so desperately to be a serious, hard hitting movie in stark independent film style that it fails to simply let its characters play out the story. We see just about everything coming long before it gets to it and wish it would move along instead of dragging us through its blatant ugliness.
Wilkinson is wasted in a sickening and poorly written minor role. Jackson and the others are fine but they are so bogged down by their familiar, slow paced and heavy-handed movie that we never really get involved with them. “The Samaritan” is a gory high-minded trip through the gutter that seems longer than its 90 minutes.
“The Samaritan” can be found on DVD at your Roanoke Valley Public Library.