‘The danger in this film feels very tangible’

Sylvester Stallone as Joe Smith in Samaritan.Image Metro Goldwyn

Sylvester Stallone (76) is the first to admit that he is not the most versatile actor on the planet. Maybe because of criticism of the new movie samaritans – where his muscles again mainly push the plot forward – to be ahead he brings the subject up on the table during a press interview.

“I hate to say this, but in this business we become a kind of product or brand. There are actors with the unique gift of being able to effortlessly fit in and play anything. I am not. People always see me as Rocky, Rambo or maybe Demolition Man. And that’s just the way it is,’ it sounds resignedly rather than bitterly. “Why don’t I just take that baggage with me and wrap it up in a new story?”

beloved superhero

It is actually anything but innovative Samaritans, based on the cartoon series of the same name, will not go down in history as a classic. With a little imagination, it’s a fine metaphor for Stallone’s career. The title character was once a beloved superhero who faded into anonymity after yet another epic battle. As Joe Smith, he spends his days as a taciturn garbage man until he comes into contact with his clever neighbor and Samaritan admirer Sam. He knows who he really is.

The days of boxing hero Rocky and crazy Vietnam veteran Rambo, characters Stallone played over and over again in countless sequels and reboots—if necessary on his own initiative by taking the director’s chair himself—also appear to be over. He’s also nowhere near the star he used to be. But à la Samaritan: just when you think you’re done, you’re suddenly asked to roll up your sleeves one (?) time. As if it should be.

Testosterone from the ears

“It’s a new generation persuading him to get going again,” says Stallone—more frail but no less passionate. In the film this is the young Sam and in reality the director, in his forties Julius Avery. “I’ve directed a lot myself, and it feels like your spleen is being pulled out of your throat with a tractor. You get a hundred questions fired at you a day, it takes a toll on your privacy; It’s actually not a nice job. Then you get to a point where you no longer have that speed, while young filmmakers still have testosterone pouring out of their ears.”

There is something touching about seeing Stallone matted again, but this time aided by digital effects. ,,Look, I can no longer play the 29-year-old Rambo. There comes a time when you have to respect your own age. But this Joe, like me, still has a lot of physical strength. And I like that he can’t fly or shoot fire from his eyes. He is much more of the street.”

The danger is palpable

When the Marvel superhero series comes up, you’ll see him hesitate a few times. To or not to criticize the current blockbuster? “It’s incredible what they’re doing, but what I’m saying is that the danger in this movie feels very tangible. This isn’t set in another universe, it’s in our world. This man could die…”

“It’s also about redemption, one of my favorite themes. Everyone’s greatest fear is being alone and dying on this planet. There is no greater horror than that. This is also what Rocky struggles with. ‘What a stupid idea’, the products exclaimed at the time (mid-seventies), but it is actually very recognisable. How he fights his way out of this is going to affect people.”

“The action can be over the top, but you have to be able to identify with someone. Loneliness, sadness; I know what it’s like to be so fragile,” said the actor, who has seen multiple marriages fail both professionally and personally (he’s seen several marriages fail – his current wife just filed for divorce – and he lost his eldest son Sage (36) sudden heart failure) crawled out of deep valleys.

‘This could be a genre’

“When I started in Hollywood there were films with, for example, car chases and some fight scenes, but I quickly thought: this could be a whole genre. With a real action movie, you can turn off the sound and still know what it’s about. And everyone needs mythical figures. It fascinates me because it can be understood by any culture.”

And don’t come at Stallone with, “Oh, it’s just a fight movie.” “I’ve always loved show wrestling. Gravity is real, landing 135 pounds on you is real. I always let my three daughters watch it too. They’re morality tales, packaged as entertainment. The same goes for action movies. All fake? I had 31 operations, which is very real.”

But it’s still worth the effort, even if he feels compelled to slow down a bit. “I like trading better now than when I was 35. Then you think you already know everything. Well, you don’t know anything yet! The problem is, the older you are, the more cynical you can become. This film also shows that. No longer loving life, that’s the big danger. It’s important to connect with young people. They take some of your wisdom, you some of their energy.”

Samaritan has been on Amazon Prime Video since Friday, August 26.

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