THE SAMARITAN (David Weaver). 93 minutes. Opens Friday (May 18). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The Samaritan is about a man who's been out of circulation for a quarter-century, a grifter who's served time for killing his partner. Now he's out, returned to a Toronto he doesn't recognize.
Naturally, Foley (Samuel L. Jackson) finds it harder than expected to stay out of trouble, especially once his dead partner's son (Luke Kirby) looks him up with the offer of a big score. He finds something like contentment in the arms of a junkie (Ruth Negga), but we can tell their happiness will be short-lived by the way the script rushes them into cozy domesticity.
And then things get really, really silly, as director David Weaver and co-writer Elan Mastai twist the movie in several different directions before settling for a professional but generic pulp thriller.
It's very nicely shot, and there are moments when Weaver gets the modern noir tone exactly right - like the scenes featuring Gil Bellows as a sympathetic bartender, or Tom McCamus as a weary parole officer - but then he drags us back to the larger plot, where things are a lot harder to believe.
That Weaver sets The Samaritan plainly and firmly in Toronto - with Canadian money and Ontario licence plates - is commendable. But that's the only element of the film that feels surprising.