By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Those few grown-ups for whom it can be considered acceptable will find the thriller “Bad Samaritan” (Electric Entertainment) intriguing but seamy. Writer Brandon Boyce and director Dean Devlin have created an intricate moral maze of a film. Yet following its ins and outs involves journeying to an underworld of aberrant behavior many may not wish to visit.
Irish immigrant Sean Falco (Robert Sheehan) and his best friend, Derek Sandoval (Carlito Olivero), are a pair of petty wise guys.They use their respectable jobs as valet parking attendants at an Italian restaurant in Portland, Oregon, as a cover for burglarizing some of their clients’ homes while the car owners are busy dining.
The pals get more than they bargained for, however, when Sean breaks into the swanky residence of wealthy businessman Cale Erendreich (David Tennant) only to discover that the tycoon is a brutal deviant and is holding a woman (Kerry Condon) captive as his sex slave. Initially unable to free the prisoner because of the elaborate nature of her bonds, Sean eventually flees for fear of being caught by Erendreich.
When an anonymous call to the police fails to produce results, Sean, filled with remorse, resolves to risk his own his own freedom by alerting the authorities in person. But, as clever as he is perverse, resourceful Erendreich manages to stay one step ahead of Sean in what becomes an elaborate game of cat and mouse.
Boyce’s script explores the ethical shadings of a situation in which there are no straightforwardly good main characters, only the compromised confronting the diabolical. He unflinchingly establishes the thieving duo’s greed-driven indifference to the consequences of their illegal activities, then presents them with the challenge of stumbling across a much deeper form of evildoing.
The experience is ultimately a salutary one for Sean. It not only clarifies and cleanses his outlook but sets him on a path of determined and costly expiation.
Still, with Erendreich deep in the throes of Norman Bates-style madness — based on an obsession that recalls Peter Shaffer’s 1973 play “Equus” — this generally taut nail-biter is obviously not suitable fare for a family outing to the movies.
The film contains much harsh violence with momentary but vivid gore, drug use, a premarital bedroom scene, glimpses of upper female nudity, some gruesome images, a blasphemous expression, several uses of profanity, an irreverent joke and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.