This button-pushing serial killer thriller requires the viewer to suspend disbelief a lot more than most entries in the genre.
But if you’re the type who can accept that the Criminal Minds team manages to burst into its Killer of the Week’s home/lair/killbox in the nick of time before the latest victim snuffs it, in almost every episode for 13 seasons now – well then, go right in.
Bad Samaritan, like the title implies, is about someone who isn’t exactly an upstanding member of society trying to do a redemptive good deed.
That would be Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan, from the Brit sci-fi comedy series Misfits), a struggling photographer/parking valet who makes a little extra on the side by burgling the homes of neighbourhood folks while the victims are dining at the restaurant where he works.
The fact that no law enforcer has picked up on the common thread in the burglaries is an indication of the competency level (as scripted) of the cops in this movie. And that is an important, and of course deliberate, lapse in order for the plot to progress.
On one job, Sean sneaks into the home of Maserati-driving Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), a character who can only be described as a rich douchebag with a name that will irk vegetable-haters and those who disagree with the lead casting of Solo: A Star Wars Story (well, it’s close enough) at the same time. That’s three buttons pushed already.
Worse, Cale has a woman (Kerry Condon) chained and gagged in his home office, and a hidden “murder room” in the garage full of props from what seems like an entire season’s worth of Criminal Minds episodes.
Though what all that equipment is for, when we eventually find out about Cale’s preferred method of victim disposal, kind of defies explanation. (There’s a lot about Cale’s victim disposal that doesn’t make sense, actually, but far be it from me to question a criminal genius.)
In keeping with the lapses in detective work related to all those burglaries in the homes of people while they were eating at Nino’s, the cops also fail to find anything incriminating in Cale’s home when Sean calls them on him.
No matter that he totally creeps out one detective; Cale doesn’t even warrant a background check after he buys the guy off with a darned fine cup of coffee.
Which then leaves Cale free to go after Sean, who has stupidly chosen to cross paths with the James Bond of serial killers. And before Sean realises he has well and truly stepped in it this time, his life becomes a living hell, because Tennant is still channelling his control freak Killgrave from Marvel’s Jessica Jones.
Bad stuff happens to everyone close to Sean – more jabbing of buttons there, while conveniently glossing over his own criminal deeds. But hey, serial killing trumps petty burgling in stacking the audience sympathy deck, right?
All this may sound like way too many strikes against the movie, right?
Director Dean Devlin does make some amends for the all-too-predictable storytelling with a couple of surprises that got a good reaction out of the preview audience.
But mainly, the film – haphazard and obvious as it is – holds your attention, thanks to Tennant’s manic magnetism as the evil fella. Also because you’ll be worrying that one of his eyeballs could well pop out of its socket in his more frenzied moments.
Director: Dean Devlin
Cast: David Tennant, Robert Sheehan, Kerry Condon, Carlito Olivero, Jacqueline Byers