Stick to Batman buddy
The SaintStarring Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue
Directed by Phillip Noyce
At Famous Players 6, 7:00 and 9:45 p.m.
The Saint, a new James Bond-style film, is going to need a few small miracles to be considered better than average.
This new film is based on the 1960s television series which starred none other than the third rendition of Ian Fleming's master spy Roger Moore. In the movie, Simon Templer (Val Kilmer, The Doors) is an international thief who uses false identities and disguises to avoid capture, with each false identity being that of a real life Saint.
This particular chapter of The Saint saga has Templer stealing the secret of cold fusion from American scientist Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue, Adventures in Babysitting) to sell to Ivan Tretiak (Rade Serbedzija), a Russian oil magnate bent on re-claiming communist power in the country.
Although no exact time in the future is given for Tretiak's attempt at power, the international setting in the film works beautifully. Not only does it maintain the fantasy aspect of the film, but despite current scientific knowledge about cold fusion, an energy shortage in Russia and cold fusion are not unrealistic possibilities.
However, the movie falls short with Templer's disguises. Although Kilmer pulls off the variety of characters well, there are simply too many, making it difficult to learn anything about the actual Templer character. Even though this maintains the mystery surrounding Templer's true identity, it became a case of too much of a good thing.
Also, the premise for Templer's lifestyle choice is a stretch. As a young child in a Catholic orphanage, Templer is apparently traumatized by the experience and begins his chameleon lifestyle, causing him to switch identities and be a hero as often as he changes his underwear. How the two events are related defies logical reasoning, but it could just be he never grew up. After all, as a kid he never paid attention in school he was living in his own fantasy world, a world from which he probably never got out.
The film tries to be both an action and romantic thriller at the same time. Bad move. Although Shue and Kilmer demonstrate a mediocre level of chemistry, the action sequences are relatively basic, with a ton of running and run-of-the-mill car chases not the kind of thing one would expect from a Bond-like film. There were, however, the typical gadgets like the 1,000-in-one use pocket knife, Internet hookups and the most classic of all a Swiss bank account.
One thing the combination does accomplish is it keeps the plot moving in a few different directions, making what could almost be two perspectives rolled into one, with one being the love story between Templer and Russell and the other the plot by Tretiak and his son Ilya (Valery Nikolaev) to overthrow the Russian government, a subplot that does not get the attention it deserves, as it is one a handful of aspects of The Saint that actually works.
Bond clone or Bond wannabe, The Saint, although fast-paced, fails to really inspire the level of excitement and suspense necessary for this type of film to be successful. Only divine intervention will bring The Saint any great success.