Hot Take: This future $3.96 DVD at Walmart is tacky, campy and sanitized by the studio. Sometimes they don’t make ’em like they used to because they shouldn’t.
Pure Flix is best known for their series of God’s Not Dead movies. They’ve cashed in twice on the series with a third on the way but still find time to make other faith-based films to attempt to satisfy their Christian fan base. Samson is the latest effort from the faith-based studio as it takes on an R-rated tale from the Bible and attempts to clean it up for a more PG audience. In its cleansing efforts, Pure Flix strips away much of the story and leaves what feels like a highlight reel of the Samson tale while leaving out any of the really messy parts. It fails to work on so many levels not the least of which are two rather uncharismatic leads with Taylor James looking like rejected WWE talent as Samson and Caitlin Leahy as Delilah. At times, it even feels like something more suited for the History Channel or some other B-list cable network attempting to dabble in original content.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Biblical tale of Samson, he’s basically the Biblical Hercules who derives his power from his hair. The film takes us all the way back to his younger days where he first discovers his power and also his wandering eye for the female species. It’s obvious that women are to be Samson’s downfall as he first meets Taren (Frances Sholto-Douglas), a Philistine whom Samson falls for. This relationship has a tragic end but Samson doesn’t learn his lesson and eventually falls for Delilah who is being used by Rallah (Jackson Rathbone), the son of the Philistine king, to find out the source of Samson’s strength. She discovers it is his hair and gives Samson a haircut but eventually, Samson discovers his inner strength and turns turmoil into victory.
Did I give too much away? Considering how far removed this tale is from the Biblical tale, maybe I have. While the film is loosely based on the tale of Samson, it sticks only to the milestones and waters down much of the more barbaric proceedings. That’s not to say Samson doesn’t rip through the Philistines in a few on-screen battles but even then, it’s somewhat removed from the actual tale. Even his philandering ways are somewhat watered down for the big screen. Pure Flix takes every effort to cleanse the film but, in doing so, removes any teeth the tale might have. Rather than being a cautionary tale, it’s more celebratory of the power of faith and less about learning from mistakes and more about showing off the great power God can have, especially when you’re facing down 1,000s of Philistines after getting a bad haircut.
Even the most ardent Christian won’t lose sleep by sitting out Samson. Its failure to stick to any semblance of the message of the original Biblical tale is only outdone by its failure to entertain. Lack of charisma from the main stars, a general sense of campiness, sluggish pacing and total lack of passion are its ultimate downfall. It’s as if the Samson & Delilah tale had received a haircut of its own by the creatives hired by Pure Flix. Better yet, a scalping.
You’re working on a pilot for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 re-boot and looking for the perfect modern day film to use.
You aren’t interested in the watered down version of one of the Bible’s more scandalous tales.