What To Expect: David Tennant on form as sleazy killer, but maybe too much aspiration
Dean Devlin, director of Universal Soldier (1992) and Independence Day (1996) came out of a ten year sabbatical in 2016 to direct the long-awaited Independence Day: Resurgence (2016). That was followed by Geostorm (2017) starring Gerard Butler. These films were both bloated, synthetic messes and to follow up, Devlin has turned down the volume to return to film noir with Bad Samaritan. It’s an improvement from Devlin but fairly forgettable.
While working as valets at a restaurant, miscreants and petty thieves Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) and Derek Sandoval (Calito Olivero) drive the cars of rich patrons back to their houses to ransack and steal, returning the cars before the owner’s have finished their plush meals. During one raid, returning to the home of Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), Falco spots a bound and distressed woman hidden in one of the rooms of the home. Falco cannot free her and must return the car before being caught, but also act on the new information he has stumbled upon. A game of wits between Falco and the sadist Erendreich develops throughout the movie.
This of course is not new ground for Devlin, Cellular (2004) staring Jason Statham and Kim Basinger was a similar film to this, but that was superior. In that movie, another woman was held hostage, with a young man running against the clock on the outset using handheld technology as a tool to free her. But that film was concise, unlike this one which puts too many irons in the fire and suffers for it. Erendreich, and this is the main problem, is a man of notable clairvoyance, who is able to move around a city and pull off the damnedest feats, matched in their implausible luck only by the stupidity of the authorities. These little plot twists may have looked good on paper, but it doesn’t work in the film.
On the upside, it is a good looking film and Tennant plays perhaps creep of the year. Pulling off a sleazy dirtbag takes skill as an actor; Tennant delivers a convincingly intelligent demon, but has enough guile to inject a hint of cowardice and pathetic pity into the man that isn’t really written. The concept that appears in the tense first half of the film, along with Tennant’s performance, might make the movie a worthy single-watch throwaway for some, depending on their tastes in this type of thing.
Another case of a B-movie being that bit too long, with five too many twists though. Average at best.