by George Wolf
From parable to porno, it’s not the type of story you’re telling, it’s how that story is told.
Samson isn’t a disappointing effort merely because it’s a “faith based” film, but because it is lazy in almost every aspect, seemingly confident that its target audience doesn’t demand anything more.
It is 1170 BC, and we meet the Hebrew Samson (Taylor James) as a mischievous scamp, comically running from Philistine guards, winking at the village lovelies (they’re the ones sporting full runway-ready makeovers) and mulling his destiny as “God’s hand of vengeance.”
King Balek (Billy Zane) orders his son, Prince Rallah (Twilight‘s Jackson Rathbone), to keep Samson and his legendary strength in check. Rallah, with help from the cunning Delilah (Caitlin Leahy), hatches a plan that will bring Samson down and snuff out any Hebrew rebellion before it has the chance to start.
Directors Bruce Macdonald and Gabriel Sabloff (both vets of the faith-based genre) and their team of writers craft a drama full of ridiculous set pieces, weak production values (“check out these sweet fake beards I found in the Target Halloween aisle!”), soap opera dramatics and a complete lack of subtlety. Performances run the gamut, from amateurish (James) and stiff (Leahy) to scenery devouring (Rathbone) and waiting on you to turn that table into Bud Light (Zane, dilly dilly).
There’s a story here, full of wonder, cruelty, betrayal, intrigue and redemption. Samson leaves so much unexplored, just wanting the credit for telling it.