Plot: Sean (Robert Sheehan) has a passion for photography and an ambition to succeed, but for now he has to supplement his camera work with a valet position. This allows him a consistent income, but also some opportunities to make even more, as he and his friend Derek (Carlito Olivera) use their valet access for more than parking cars. Once the clients are inside, the two friends backtrack the driver’s home address through the GPS, then use the owner’s own keys to enter their house, liberate some valuables, then return the car in time to avoid suspicion. This scam has given the friends some sizable loot at times, but when Sean takes his turn and enters a driver’s home, he discovers more than he expects, as a woman is held prisoner inside.
Entertainment Value: I like this premise and Bad Samaritan isn’t a terrible thriller, but it feels rather flat and no offense to his general skills, but David Tennant isn’t believable at all as a dangerous psychopath. This wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but the narrative centers on Tennant’s villain and needs a competent threat, which is just not part of his wheelhouse. But the story is solid and while it doesn’t live up to the promise of the concept, the movie crafts some passable atmosphere and tension, as well as some nice, interesting twists. The pace is solid for the most part, brisk enough to keep you reeled in, but not deliberate enough to allow for much development, so it is a trade off, but I think the balance is decent enough. The tone is serious, but never gets that dark or scary, more light suspense and again, some of the lack of real tension falls onto Tennant’s presence, which never clicks into place. While Bad Samaritan never builds much steam and feels uneven, it is a watchable thriller.
As I said several times above, the main reason Bad Samaritan stumbles is David Tennant and the blame is split between his performance and whoever cast him in the role. He has great skill as an actor, but this kind of role needs menace and dark presence, which he struggles to provide. He just doesn’t have the sense of threat a villain like Cale needs and since the movie puts a lot of emphasis on the bad guy, Bad Samaritan never really gets out of the blocks. Again, I don’t blame Tennant and while his performance is middling at best, it is a case of poor casting, rather than a lackluster performance. No one else really delivers at high level either however, though I did appreciate Hannah Barefoot in a small, but memorable role. The cast also includes Carlito Olivero, Jacqueline Byers, Kerry Condon, and Robert Sheehan.