The Films of Dean Devlin
Geostorm (November 16/17)
Dean Devlin's directorial debut, Geostorm details the chaos and destruction that ensues after an Earth-covering network of satellites, designed to protect the planet from harsh climate changes, goes haywire and begins targeting individual cities - with the narrative following maverick scientist Jake Lawson (Gerard Butler) as he agrees to head up into the complicated space station to attempt to fix the problem before it's too late. It's a decidedly familiar premise that could (and should) have resulted in a fun and unapologetically silly disaster movie, and while Devlin has peppered the narrative with a few admittedly engrossing sequences (eg a character must outrun a series of deadly explosions in a smart car), Geostorm is ultimately bogged down by a meandering midsection that's devoted almost entirely to Jake's dull exploits aboard the aforementioned space station - with the less-than-compelling nature of such scenes compounded by an emphasis on tedious character stuff (eg the strained relationship between Jake and his younger brother). There's virtually nothing within the non-spectacle-oriented moments that wholeheartedly works (a conspiracy involving no less than the President fares just as poorly as everything else, for example) and it's clear, too, that the action-packed climax isn't able to pack the visceral punch that Devlin has obviously intended (ie it just feels like run-of-the-mill computer-generated mayhem) - with the end result a misfire that's a far cry from the best the genre has to offer.
Bad Samaritan casts Robert Sheehan as Sean Falco, an affable thief who stumbles upon something horrific during a seemingly routine home robbery - with the movie subsequently detailing the game of cat and mouse that ensues between Sean and the aforementioned home's dangerous, sociopathic owner (David Tennant's Cale Erendreich). It's clear immediately that Bad Samaritan's most obvious deficiency is its unusually low-rent atmosphere, as the picture, for the most part, suffers from a less-than-cinematic feel that ensures it more often resembles a generic movie-of-the-week than a big-screen endeavor. (It doesn't help, certainly, that neither Sheehan nor Tennant are especially strong in their respective roles.) There's little doubt, then, that Bad Samaritan benefits heavily from a narrative that's riddled with appealing attributes, as scripter Brandon Boyce delivers a mystery-fueled opening stretch that gives way to a fairly compelling midsection - although the lamentable (and ongoing) emphasis on far-from-engrossing elements ultimately does wreak havoc on the film's momentum (eg it's difficult to work up much interest in or enthusiasm for everything involving the skeptical detective on the case). The relatively exciting climax ensures that the whole thing ends on a decidedly positive note, at least, which confirms Bad Samaritan's place as a hit-and-miss thriller that stands as a minor improvement over director Dean Devlin's 2017 debut, Geostorm.