Director: Dean Devlin
Cast: David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, Jacqueline Byers, Carlito Olivero
Plot: An opportunistic thief (Sheehan) breaks into the house of wealthy Cale Erendreich (Tennant) only to find a woman (Condon) tied up and being held captive.
David Tennant is an actor who is really easy to get excited about. You would think that playing Doctor Who would kill a career, the character impossible to escape the shadow from. It is a credit to Tennant, that when he steps into any other role, any memory of time-travelling police boxes are long gone. As soon as an episode of Broadchurch kicked off, he utterly convinced as a character actor. Of course, recently his piece de resistance has been in Jessica Jones, where he played a villain so amazing, the show has recently been struggling since his absence. This is the main selling point for Dean Devlin’s Bad Samaritan; that David Tennant villain experience but in a film format. Of course, the next worry is that Bad Samaritan will be exactly that: Tennant carbon-copying his Jessica Jones role. Of course, as soon as he struts onto the screen, those doubts are cast aside. In fact, you feel silly for even humouring the thought that an actor as accomplished as Tennant would let that happen. Cale Erendreich is completely different from the spoiled supervillain of Kilgrave, or the maniacal Barty Crouch in the Harry Potter series. Tennant has taken this new character and run with it, creating a cold-hearted psychopath that is as cunning as he is sadistic. The joy of Bad Samaritan is the slow reveal of the person Cale Erendreich truly is and as each layer of villainy is peeled back, this is where Devlin finds the meat of his story. While Robert Sheehan, of Misfits’ fame, may be the star of the show, it is Tennant who commands your attention and will be the factor of Devlin’s film that will keep audiences talking from quite some time.
In all honesty though, Bad Samaritan is a well-rounded crime thriller movie. The twist is a neat one. Sheehan is a valet who steals from the diners at a fancy restaurant while they are eating. He only steals the bare minimum, so he is never caught. It is the perfect system, until he breaks into Cale’s house and realises that his victim is worse than he is, keeping chained women in his house, complete with a serial killer tool kit. Unable to save the hostage in time, Sheehan contacts the police, nobly handing himself in to prove his story. However, Tennant’s intelligently plotting killer covers up his tracks, leaving this a case of ‘his story against his’, which isn’t a fair contest when a burglar takes on a loved rich guy. Cale Erendreich then takes it upon himself to pull apart Sheehan’s life, starting with his job, working his way through his girlfriend and concluding with a frightful showdown in a snowy woods location. Devlin’s budget is quite slim on this one, set-pieces mainly about tension rather than spectacle (he does manage one explosion however). That being said, what Devlin has created is an old-fashioned thriller that is more rooted in characterisation and the everyday hero, instead of the superhero element. There are characters to root for, the preposterous is balanced with realism and any character could be bumped off at any moment. Devlin may have just given the audience what it has been looking for, for quite some time.
Final Verdict: Bad Samaritan is a crime thriller that has been sorely lacking in cinema for quite some time; it doesn’t hurt that Tennant is predictably phenomenal.