WHAT TO SEE: Samson
Starring Jackson Rathbone, Billy Zane, Taylor James, Caitlin Leahy
Run time: 109 min
Some men complain if a barbershop trim sets them back more than $10. Others don’t mind plunking down $25 if it includes a shampoo and scalp massage. The biblical Samson paid even
more: his first and last haircut ultimately cost him his life.
The just-released film “Samson” takes some liberties with the scriptural story from Judges 13-16 and places it within a smooth and engaging narrative. Amid cardboard Philistine villains like the sinister and sadistic Rallah (Jackson Rathbone), heir to the throne of his arrogant father King Balek (Billy Zane), more complex and nuanced roles are left to the reluctant hero Samson (Taylor James) and his duplicitous lover Delilah (Caitlin Leahy).
Samson, consecrated a Nazirite at birth, sports rugged good looks and a generous heart but is filled with self-doubt, a sense of failure, and an unwillingness to fulfill the task to which God calls him. It takes a pep talk from his brother and a run-in with a ferocious lion to turn his focus toward his true destiny. Samson is also a ladies’ man, with a particular weakness for Philistine women, which winds up being his downfall as he is easily seduced by beauty. For her part, Delilah, the aspiring beautician, freely participates in Samson’s undoing despite harboring real feelings for him.
It’s a presentation of PureFlix, which also produced recent squeaky-clean Christian-themed films like “God’s Not Dead” and “Woodlawn,” so the lack of risqué sexual elements is not a surprise. Still, there is a fair amount of violence and some bloodshed in the course of hand-to hand combat and executions. There’s bound to be a bit of that when a strong man slays thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. “Samson” deserves its PG-13 rating for that reason, so perhaps it’s not ideal viewing for younger children.
GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.