Samuel L. Jackson has made a career of being an action star. Starring in movies the likes of xXx, Pulp Fiction, and most recently Marvel’s Avengers and its related movies among many others has made him a household name. His resume stretches all the way back to the early 1970’s. So starring in IFC Films’ latest action/drama, The Samaritan, was old hat for this veteran actor. Starring as ex-con Foley, Jackson eases his way throughout the story written by Elan Mastai and David Weaver. Having played so many roles throughout his career, he shows once again his ability to adapt to any role and any story.
For the most part, The Samaritan runs as well as any big screen crime drama. If one were to watch this story without knowing it’s an indie flick, one would think it was a major blockbuster that they simply hadn’t heard of. That’s thanks in large part to the story’s writing. It’s got enough crosses and double crosses to leave audiences guessing who is on whose side right to the story’s closing minutes. The fact that the movie clocks in at barely over an hour and a half makes it that much more watchable for audiences. Perhaps the only major downside to the story would be the blatantly disturbing twist involving Foley’s relationship to Iris (Ruth Negga). The way in which this relationship played into the story was disturbing to say the least. The argument would be made that that was the intent. But it could have been written differently than it was. Had their relationship been written differently into the story, then that alone might have made it far more appealing to general audiences.
The issue with Foley and Iris’ relationship aside, The Samaritan still has plenty going for it. The cinematography is stunning. The shooting done throughout the film really gives it a modern pulp fiction vibe. There’s something about the way that the lighting was used that makes watching the movie appealing. The contrast of the buildings lit up against the night sky, and the general camera angles add a certain extra touch that makes it that much more enjoyable. Combine the top notch cinematography with a story that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats the entire time, and audiences have a movie that while it is an indie flick is one more impressive work from one of Hollywood’s best actors.
Marvel’s The Avengers is a good start to the Summer movie season this year. The build up for the movie has been nearly as immense as that for the finale of DC’s current Batman franchise. And the end result definitely lives up to all the hype. It’s translated to the big screen as if it were actually a live action comic book. Some comic books over history haven’t translated to the big screen so well. But this one did. However, for all the greatness that was this highly anticiapted seasonal opener, it wasn’t without its flaws.
Anticipation has been growing over the newest of Marvel’s comics-to-film franchise, The Avengers. From toys to promos to everything in between, The Avengers have been everywhere. And it’s paid off with over $200 million in its opening weekend. This movie is everything that a Summer blockbuster should be. It has all the requisite explosions and action that audiences look for in their attempts to escape the mundacity of the every day world. Thanks to writer/director Joss Whedon and co-writer Zak Penn, they’ve somehow managed to bring the action from the pages of the famed comic series and make it feel like audiences are actually seeing the comic book itself on the big screen, without going the Joel Schumacher route a la DC’s Batman & Robin and Batman Forever. The chemistry between the cast was obvious too. It was funny to see Tony Stark and Dr. Banner interacting. The banter between the two was worth its share of laughs in and of itself. The same applies even more so when the full Avengers team is together in one room. The one-liners from each team member make for plenty of laughs throughout.
For all the laughs and great action, The Avengers is not without its faults. The sexual innundo that is typical of Tony Stark is there. And one can’t help but wonder if his subtle joke about Banner potentially using marijuana to stay calm was entirely necessary. What’s more, do audiences really need preachiness about military buildup? Audiences are bombarded with such stories every day on the news. Having the Avengers quarreling with Director Fury over S.H.I.E.L.D.’s real intentions takes a certain amount of escapism from the movie. It’s not the first movie to go that route, either. What’s more, that the movie is an ensemble piece, it does tend to drag on a little bit too long. Whether it’s telling backstory of each member of the Avengers team, or from other areas, Whedon and Penn could have found a way to shave off twenty to thirty minutes from this roughly two and a half hour movie. Keeping that in consideration, one can only hope that when the already anticipated Avengers 2 makes its debut, whomever writes and helms that movie will have taken the good and bad from this one to make a sequel that defies common logic of sequels.