Director Dean Devlin, along with his partner Roland Emmerich, used be the king of large-scale blockbusters. Some of the duo’s efforts include Independence Day, Stargate and the ill-received 1998 Americanization of Godzilla. They split some years back and now Devlin has moved into making smaller scale films, of which his latest effort, the thriller Bad Samaritan, is one. Devlin exhibits a skillfulness that allows Bad Samaritan to succeed. At least for a little while until things derail during the final act. This, however, is more of a problem with the film’s script, which Devlin didn’t write.  It’s a film that makes you wonder how much better it could have been had things not gotten so derivative and ridiculous during the film’s denouement. Still, the first half succeeds to some degree so it isn’t a total washout.

Early twentysomethings Sean and Derek run a valet business that serves as a front for their real gig. They basically park the cars of their clientele and then rob their homes while the clients are having a nice night on the town. All goes well until Sean happens upon a kidnapped woman inside one of the homes he’s robbing. This presents a moral dilemma. I mean how can you turn the guy in who’s doing the kidnapping, when you were robbing his house when you discovered his dastardly deed?

As I said, there are some genuine thrills in the film’s first half and a decent performance by David Tennant as the villain. That’s enough to give this one a marginal recommendation if nothing else.

Image: David Tennant in Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan is currently playing in Charlotte.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].