Directed by: Julius Avery
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Written by Alexander Reams
Does anyone remember “Overlord?” A tiny film that was released in late 2018 and was a surprise to fans and critics alike. Its director, Julius Avery, then went MIA for 4 years and now returns with what had looked to be another film within the anti-superhero genre, a hero that plays against archetypes and goes against the grain of what audiences expect a superhero film to be. Instead, we were given a by-the-book adaptation that relies on horrendously edited fight sequences, the growl of Sly Stallone, and his relationship with Sam Cleary (Euphoria breakout Javon “Wanna” Walton). The plot (if you want to be generous and call it that) revolves around Sam and his struggles growing up with his mom Tiffany (Dascha Polanco) and his involvement with local gangs
He meets Joe (Sly Stallone) and becomes convinced that he is his superhero idol “Samaritan” and becomes the typical annoying kid from a film where said kid meets their idol. Sly sleepwalks through the film, grunting more than enunciating words, he conjures the essence of an elderly Hulk more than a would-be former superhero. His storyline with Sam is supposed to be a surrogate-father/son dynamic but they have the chemistry of oil and water. Even Sam’s relationship with his mother is playing second fiddle to the main story of Sam and Joe, which is unfortunate for Polanco as she seems to try and care, but eventually goes the route of everyone else, apathy.
Pilou Asbæk is the only person who looks like he wants to be there, chewing the scenery with the little screenwriter Bragi F. Schut gave him. Asbæk’s previous collaboration with Avery had him sporting a Nazi uniform and yet he was more of a character there, here he is a violent ganglord of the slums in Detroit. All of this eventually falls on Julius Avery, incidentally, the main reason I was excited for this, Sly has lost his luster as of late, and there is really no reason to see his work these days. The buck stops with Avery, he is the director and his style from his previous features seemed like it would work well on paper. This film is as dead as Stallone looked for the entire 101 minutes.