Samuel L. Jackson must be one of the most beloved actors on earth. The guy takes roles for their fun factor, never takes himself too seriously, and always delivers. He has done stuff as brainless as Snakes on a Plane to performances as brilliant as Pulp Fiction, Unbreakable and A Time to Kill. He seems to have no ego about what he does and that shows through in his work, which I think has endeared him to legions of moviegoers. His latest offering on Blu-ray is the low budget Canadian film, The Samaritan.
Foley (Jackson) was a grifter. He was all about the quick buck and the con, but after twenty five years in prison, he just wants to start over. His occupation has cost him his friends, family, and now a good chunk of his life. Now free, Foley is confronted by Ethan (Luke Kirby), the son of his old partner. Ethan wants to learn the art of the con and blackmails Foley into helping him. The target is Ethan’s boss, Xavier (Tom Wilkinson), a crooked man himself who leads two lives and lets nothing get in the way of his success. Ethan wants to scam him for $8 million and Foley has no choice but to help. Now Foley must find a way to get the deal done and get out alive, but some things are easier said than done. Especially in a con.
When The Samaritan started out, it seemed pretty typical. Ex-con gets pulled back into the life he wants to leave behind. Yadda yadda, heard it all before. But once I got about a third of the way into the film I realized I was in for more than I bargained for. Writers Elan Mastai and David Weaver keep the stakes high and take the story to places I did not expect. Not only does the plot take some unpredictable turns, but the emotional twists were surprising as well. Jackson is fantastic here and reminds us that he isn’t just a fun actor we like to watch, but a serious actor that can pull off the heavy performances just as well as the light ones. This is not the screaming, cursing Jackson we often encounter, his Foley is much more beaten down and restrained, a contemplative man who doesn’t want to do what he does best. Tom Wilkinson is also great, playing a real bastard, which I often forget he is very good at. Director David Weaver keeps a steady controlling hand on the action, giving the film a great concentrated pace and handling the turns of events masterfully. This is one of those films that once you are done it you can’t help but wonder why it wasn’t seen and appreciated by more people.
The Blu-ray from eOne is decent. The film doesn’t have a lot of HD pop to it, but the image clarity is nice and detail is pretty good throughout. While not a standout, it is still a solid transfer of a nice surprise of a film. Fans of thrillers and fans of Jackson will all be pleased with this little gem. Recommended.