‘Samaritan’ Characters: Joe Smith And Sam Cleary, Explained: How Is Joe Influenced By Sam?

“Samaritan” takes a different take on the superhero genre. It does not so much glorify a superhero as it explores superheroism. “Samaritan” means a helpful person. But there’s more to Sylvester Stallone’s Samaritan than meets the eye. In fact, he isn’t supposed to be a helpful person. And it is this aspect that makes the film worth watching. How it uses the motif of a child’s misconception to turn a bad guy into a good guy, if you think about it, is more surreal to the mind than to the eyes. “Samaritan” is a good watch, thanks to Sylvester Stallone’s conspicuous rage, which goes hand in hand with Granite City’s present scenario and adds to the film’s overall nature.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In The ‘Samaritan’ Film?

Samaritan and Nemesis were twin brothers who became enemies. But to begin with, we have two young boys, freakishly strong, whose home was burned down by people who feared them. While the boys remained unscathed, their parents died. Samaritan grew to fight for justice while Nemesis wanted the world to suffer just like his parents did. Samaritan would try to contain Nemesis’s rage, and so the latter forged a hammer out of all his fury which could destroy Samaritan. Nemesis lured Samaritan to a power plant to kill him, but a blast at the plant killed them both.


Sam Cleary (Javon Walton) is a young kid who lives in Graphite City with his mother. He believes that the Samaritan is still alive. One day, when he and his friend Jace try to make some money by selling stolen electric wires, they come across some guys who work for Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a crime boss. While Jace backs off, Sam shows interest in working for Cyrus. He is brought to Cyrus, who appreciates Sam’s bravery. But later on, when he is attacked by the same guys who brought him to Cyrus, his neighbor Joe Smith (Sylvester Stallone), an old guy, saves him. However, it isn’t the fact that he saved him but how that matters. Joe picked the guys up and threw them away (for the lack of a better description). This makes Sam think that Joe is a Samaritan.

On the other hand, Cyrus and his gang are planning a city-wide blackout by blowing the gridlines. They break into the city police department’s evidence room, and Cyrus gets his hands on Nemesis’s mask and hammer, intending to finish what Nemesis started, tearing down Granite City. Sam tries to befriend Joe and is almost able to do so. But Joe tells him that his days as a Samaritan are long gone. However, when an incident brings Joe’s actions to the limelight of the media, Cyrus realizes that Samaritan is indeed back. Unable to track him, he gets a hold of Sam to lure Joe to him. But will the Samaritan come to Sam’s rescue? Or is it someone else, someone more dangerous?


Character Of Joe Smith: Explained

Joe Smith is a “troglodyte.” In other words, a caveman or recluse who prefers to stay alone. And like any other caveman, he, too, has a history of his own. At first, it seems that Joe is indeed a Samaritan, and his age has taken a toll on him. Moreover, the fact that a superhero cannot really have someone to love or have a family is a fact that we all have come to accept. It will only compromise them. His past, as told to us by Sam, reveals that he somehow survived the blast while his brother Nemesis died. Even Joe’s dreams emphasize his last fight with his brother. However, it is towards the end of the film that we find out that Joe Smith isn’t Samaritan but Nemesis. Samaritan died on the night of the blast. This is the moment when whatever we saw earlier in the film begins to make sense.

When Cyrus steals the hammer from the evidence room, Joe, aka Nemesis, feels it inside him because the hammer contains his rage and fury. Later on, when he explains to Sam that fixing things helps him focus, he tells him that some old things deserve a second chance. And Sam rhetorically asks, “Like you?” Joe doesn’t say anything, but his expression seems to say that somewhere deep down, his old self, too, is looking for a second chance, a chance to be a good person, a Samaritan perhaps. And Joe’s trying to fix things is his own way of trying to fix himself; something that, after all the havoc he has wreaked in the past as Nemesis, will probably take forever (philosophically speaking). Then when Sam asks him about what happened between him and Nemesis, he almost loses his temper. “Good thing Nemesis is gone,” says Sam. Joe replies that no one knows what happened on that fateful night, but the fact is that Nemesis is dead. By this, he means that he has left behind his villainous self and has become a new human being. It can also be a way of him burying his past and giving himself a fresh start. But all this begins to take shape after Sam addresses Joe Smith as the Good Samaritan. The reason Joe lives alone is that he doesn’t want to even risk hurting anyone provided his past. But when Sam addresses him as a hero, he tries to cope with it and live up to Sam’s belief that he is not a bad guy anymore.


The scene of him fighting Cyrus, who is wearing the Nemesis mask and has the hammer, represents Joe fighting his past self. “Give up, old man,” were Cyrus’s words. Joe’s past is weighing heavily on him as he hangs by the ledge while Cyrus walks up to him to kill him. This scene reminds us of the fateful night all those years ago when it was “Samaritan” who was hanging by the ledge and Joe, aka Nemesis, was standing in front of him. It seems that Joe’s past has finally caught up with him as he looks at himself (Cyrus is wearing Nemesis’s mask). But there is someone present now who wasn’t present then. And that is Sam.

Character Of Sam Cleary: Explained

Sam looks up to Joe Smith because he thinks that Joe is a Samaritan. But his faith, although unbeknownst to him, is blind. It is not like he knows Joe is the baddie and decides to make him a better person. He believes that Joe is the Samaritan. But it is this blind faith that works its magic. Joe, who has been trying to “fix things” for the last 25 years, is finally able to accept that he can indeed be a good person. He, too, can let go of his past. It is interesting how the creators of “Samaritan” chose the name “Sam” for the kid. Maybe it was to show that Sam is a part of Sam-aritan, AKA Joe Smith. Without Sam, the Samaritan is incomplete.


In the final scenes of the film, Sam, even after he finds out that Joe isn’t a Samaritan but a Nemesis, isn’t willing to give up on him. Sam hits Cyrus in the head, and it diverts his attention long enough for Joe to pull himself up and finally throw Cyrus into the fire. This is followed by Joe’s action when he throws his mask into the fire, a symbolic gesture that proves that Joe has been able to kill his Nemesis self. He has won the fight with himself. But it is Sam who saves his life by putting water on him and preventing his heart from exploding, an outcome of body overheating that itself is a result of taking hits and getting hurt badly. Joe then carries Sam out of the burning building. When Sam is asked whether it is true that Samaritan is back and it is he who saved him, he says, “Yes, Samaritan lives.” We then see Joe nodding at Sam from a distance before walking off. He isn’t Nemesis anymore. He is the good guy, the helpful guy. He is the “Samaritan”.

See More: ‘Samaritan’ Ending, Explained: Was Samaritan Dead? Who Saved Sam, Was It Samaritan Or Nemesis?

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Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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