Legendary actor Sylvester Stallone is back on our screens with his new film Samaritan, and the action movie star is kicking ass and taking names just as you’d expect. Samaritan manages to put its own spin on the superhero movie genre with its focus firmly on the concepts of social responsibility and the human behind the superhuman, and we’ve got an insight from the cast as to how this worked on screen.
Samaritan dropped on the streaming service Prime Video on August 26, and we were pretty impressed by how much fun the movie is. Our Samaritan review had particular praise for the ambition of the film, and the way it tackles some pretty pertinent themes within its story. With the conveyor belt of MCU content coming our way every month, it’s refreshing to see a thriller movie like this have some concern for real world issues.
At a press conference attended by The Digital Fix, Stallone and his co-stars Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Pilou Asbæk, and Dascha Polanco discussed this approach to storytelling.
While Samaritan is an entertaining watch, there’s certainly more beneath the surface. When it came to signing on to this particular project, it was that very concept of looking at the world around us that first appealed to Stallone.
“It’s almost very reflective of what’s going on. Quite often, people go, you know what, we’re basically good people who can take care of ourselves. Let’s be on the honour system, and quite often it backfires.
And then you go, ‘Well how do we get rid of all this violence and fear?'” Stallone said.
“In the movies, it’s always this mythic character. But in the end, I say to the people, you have to take care of yourself, that’s what it’s all
about. So it’s kind of a cautionary tale,” he added.
At times, Samaritan plays out more like a gritty drama movie than a superhero flick, and that’s testament to the manner in which the film combines high-stakes action with more nuanced, authentic moments. A key factor in the success of this is the relationship between Stallone and Walton’s character, something Stallone himself touched on.
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“It’s bad times, it’s mistakes, it’s this and that. And this kid is dragging me back into my memories, he’s making me face who I was. [My character] doesn’t want to go there. He left it behind,” Stallone explained.
Walton’s character also goes on a very emotional journey of discovery throughout the film too, and the Euphoria actor went into detail about how that all plays out for Sam on screen, and the bond his character shares with those around him.
“[Sam] is torn between two different worlds of good and evil. He doesn’t know what’s right for him. He’s a little lost. You know, he hasn’t really found that father figure yet for him to help him out,” Walton said.
“I feel like at the end, he ends up finding himself a little more, and you guys will see that. And the bonds between the people he meets along
the way, it’s really special,” Walton added.
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Nevertheless, we’ve seen heroes (and villains) contend with their morality in Marvel movies and the like before, so what exactly sets Samaritan apart from the crowd? For Stallone, it’s all about the way his hero operates within the world he finds himself in.
“I thought that this guy, his trait would be in his resolve. He’s a very, very, very powerful individual that is still in the world of reality, a
little bit. He can’t fly, he can’t see through walls, fire doesn’t come out of his mouth. He’s just a unique sort of superhero,” Stallone said.
“He’s almost like a modern day Hercules. He’s that kind of a mythic hero. And I think those are ones that you can identify with. You say ‘Oh, he can die. He gets hit enough, he’s gone,'” Stallone continued.
The theme of heroism and standing up for what is right runs deep throughout the movie, and it’s not just Stallone who bears that responsibility. According to Dascha Polanco, who plays Sam’s mother, there are plenty of heroic characters in Samaritan.
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“You have the mother as a hero as well. And then you have Pilou, even though he’s antagonistic, he also plays a hero in a sense within his world. So the sense of superhero as we’ve seen it, in this film, is more, I want to say realistic and [something] you can connect to more with the relationships that are established,” Polanco said.
“It’s the grittiness of it all. And the crazy moments between. It’s really just like a dark twist to superhero films that we haven’t really experienced yet. You guys will see the grittiness of it all. [It’s] really not about superheroes wearing capes and that kinda stuff,” Walton added.
The influence and success of Marvel and the DCEU is not lost on the cast though, who took time to praise those who have come before them in the superhero game.
“First of all, I love DC. I love Marvel. We like those American big films,” Asbæk said. “I’m not trash talking the other films, because I love those films. But [Samaritan] you can watch, because it’s a stand alone film. The story starts and ends within two hours.”
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“There has been a tremendous accomplishment by certain directors and certain companies in Marvel and DC, that have really pushed the universe to the max,” Stallone added. “Everything that you could possibly imagine, has been created.”
The threat of alien invasion and multi-dimensional rifts hasn’t quite impacted our world just yet though, and it’s in recognising real world threats that Stallone thinks his new movie finds its unique selling point compared to the MCU movies.
“I always feel there is nothing quite as relatable as almost getting hit by a car, or walking down a dark alley, and thinking there’s a shadow coming behind you. That’s very relatable,” Stallone explained.
“So we try to make the events and the danger plausible, in a sense, and identifiable. That could happen to you. It’s something that’s very tangible. It’s not from another universe, it’s right here in the streets,” he concluded.
If you want to know how to watch Samaritan, it is now playing on Prime Video, and you can sign up to the service here. If you want more hard-hitting action, check out our list of the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.