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The Saint

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Saint

Starring: Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue
Director: Phillip Noyce
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: April 1997
Genres: Action, Suspense

*Also starring: Rade Serbedzija, Velery Nikolaev

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie review
2.  Walter Frith read the review movie review
3.  MrBrown read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
4.  Dragan Antulov read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

Welcome to the rat race - Russian style. Filthy rich members of the Russian Mafia are dressed in black. With their hookers at their side, they are betting on rats running in tubes. On the tables are silver trays with stacks of U.S. hundred dollar bills, and as the loud music plays, people are sniffing dope.

"Who are you?" asks Emma of The Saint. "Nobody has a clue - least of all me," he replies. You will probably feel that way about this entire movie version of THE SAINT. A hopeless muddle from beginning to end. The convoluted plot challenges even the most attentive viewers. Someone has stolen and then hidden all of the heating oil in Moscow, leaving Muscovites freezing to death. With warring factions inside the Russian government, the country stands on the brink of the second Russian revolution. Thieves, selling priceless art, hang out in the sewers. And the piece de resistance, the secret to cold fusion is discovered and then stolen. I could not keep track of the details even with my trusty notepad at my side. That everyone wore black and shot at each other did not help me keep the characters straight.

The show starts with the young kid known as Simon Templar (The Saint) at an orphanage. He is mistreated so he goes on to lead a life of crime. His recurring nightmares of the cruelty of the priests there will affect his behavior forever. Unlike the other characterizations of The Saint, Val Kilmer's rendition is much more heartless and mean-spirited, that is, until he meets Emma Russell. Emma, played by Elisabeth Shue, has just discovered how to make cold fusion work. Once he falls in love with Emma, he is a changed man.

The show is so preposterous that I was stunned. As a critic, I do not get shocked easily, but I was aghast at how awful the story was. Thirty minutes into the show, I looked over at my wife, and we both stared at each other with our mouths open. The script by Jonathan Hensleigh and Wesley Strick and the direction by Phillip Noyce leaves the audience dazed and confused. The show has no characters worthy of our love or hate. A totally preposterous picture that has so many logical inconsistencies you will lose track if you try to count them. Let me just mention my personal favorite. Randomly, people speak in Russian with English subtitles, but most of the time the Russians converse in English. The inconsistency makes no sense.

As hopeless as the story is, the acting is much worse. Sometimes there are a few bright spots in movies to help pass the time. This show has none. The people around me begin to laugh out loud at the acting as it was so pathetically bad. Although the support cast is as almost as weak as the two stars, let me just stick to commenting on Kilmer and Shue.

Kilmer's inconsistency as an actor is well known. His most recent disgusting performance was in THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, but he can be excellent as he was in TOMBSTONE. Some critics use phrases that I never do because I feel they are more expletives than critical commentary. The word "self-indulgent" is one such epithet. I do not believe I have ever used that phrase to describe an actor's work until this review. In THE SAINT, Kilmer gives a performance that sets the gold standard for self-indulgent acting. He delights in his disguises from the gay guy who offers to share his lipstick to the dotty professor with the bad teeth and the overbite. In all of these he becomes so infatuated with himself that he insults his audience with his overacting. Never does he take the time to develop his character.

Shue gave a marvelous, Academy Award nominated performance in LEAVING LAS VEGAS. She played the hooker with tough realism. Not for a minute did you doubt her performance. In THE SAINT, she gives us a scientist who makes one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century but who acts like a ditzy teenager. She give us not a single believable minute in the film.

THE SAINT, in many ways, resembles another recent remake, the film MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. Although I was only able to a mild thumbs up to MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, it is a cinematic masterpiece in comparison to THE SAINT.

I did learn one thing from THE SAINT. If I ever begin to die of hypothermia, I want Elizabeth Shue nearby. The way she saved Kilmer made it look almost worth jumping in the frozen river.

THE SAINT runs 1:57, but it will feel like an eternity. The film is rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexual situations and drug usage. I was surprised it did not get an R rating. The film would be fine for teenagers, but I do not think it is suitable for younger kids. Actually, there is no reason for anybody of any age to waste their time with THE SAINT. I give it a whole star for reasons which escape me.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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