The Saint (1997)

Genres - Action, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Glamorized Spy Film, Master Criminal Films  |   Release Date - Apr 4, 1997 (USA), Apr 4, 1997 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 116 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

The usually reliable action director Phillip Noyce has served up polished genre pictures in the past but here presents a stinker that frequently feels like an unintentionally hilarious depiction of two A-list actors playing dress up and make-believe. The notion of the often wooden Elisabeth Shue portraying a genius physicist is funny enough, but add to the mix star Val Kilmer arrayed in a variety of disguises (most of which are rather stupidly ineffective due to their attention-getting extremity), and unexpected mirth is frequently provoked. The plot, which hinges on a Russian millionaire's desire to squelch the secret of cold fusion in order to control his country's energy resources and propel him into political office, makes little sense. Why would a man who's richer than any czar in history want to become one in a time of great upheaval and turmoil? It won't make him richer, and he's risking ending up like the last czar, shot to death in a basement. Not a good plan. Then there are the Shue-Kilmer scenes together, which it seems that the director and stars want to play out as a delicate pas de deux between two people falling in love while protecting various secrets from each other. Instead, several of these encounters evoke a feeling that the protagonists are mentally disturbed theater majors enacting a class improvisation exercise. The film also fumbles in presenting its hero as a real person of genuine feelings rather than a comic book super-spy in the mold of the original Leslie Charteris novels, which is a mistake given the outlandish qualities of the story and situations. The Saint (1997) isn't the worst espionage-thriller ever made, but it's certainly nowhere near the best.