The task of finding an entertaining modern day thriller is often difficult simply because so many films in the genre wind up being convoluted messes of twists or turns that either contradict earlier parts of the film or seem thrown in because there wasn’t a better way to end the film or there just wasn’t a proper buildup.
Perhaps even more unfortunate, is the fact that often this is done to make the film seem intelligent when often enough, the exact opposite effect is achieved.
Fortunately, this is not the case with Bad Samaritan, a thriller which relies on the strength of it’s cast (most notably, David Tennant, who continues to show that he should be a Hollywood go-to for any time they need to cast some creepy overshadowing character) to deliver a straight forward cat-and-mouse tale that revolves around the consequences of Sean unearthing some of the skeletons in Cale Erendreich’s closet.
The results of which, of course, continually drive the film as each “punishment” tends to have more devastating effects than the last.
Not to mention, when Cale isn’t trying to destroy Sean’s life, more often than not he’s portraying his own version of Buffalo Bill complete with instructions for any prisoner he may hold.
Where the movie struggles, however, is in creating a similar level of suspense as many of the thrillers that came before it. Most noticeably, this is due to the audience’s inability to truly connect with many of the characters. In no small part this could be related to the fact that even the protagonist is an anti-hero of sorts, but it could also be related to flaws in the storytelling, flaws which otherwise would have ruined the story of most other movies had it not been for Tennant being able to carry a good portion of the movie.
(Including one point near the end where the movie almost falls into the thriller trap of including a flimsy twist, but which ends up leading to the best line of the movie).
As a result, even with it’s flaws and lack of complications that seem to run rampant in contemporary versions of the genre, Bad Samaritan succeeds in it’s simplicity, creating one eerie villain who works to break down any one who gets in his way.
Bad Samaritan hits theaters nationwide May 4, 2018.