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Last updated
December 04, 2002
12:35:25 AM
The Saint
Double Team
Dante's Peak


The Saint

Classification: Rated PG-13 (for action violence, brief strong language, some sensuality and drug content.)
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Leslie Charteris, Jonathan Hensleigh, Wesley Strick
Sound Mix: DTS, Dolby Digital
Running Time: 116 minutes
Val Kilmer - Simon Templar
Elisabeth Shue - Dr. Emma Russell
Rade Serbedzija - Ivan Tretiak
Valeri Nikolayev - Ilya Tretiak
Henry Goodman - Dr. Lev Botvin
Alun Armstrong - Scotland Yard Detective
Double Action Rating Conventional Rating Laughter Utilization (%) BIM Rating (1-10) Antic Level Buffer Zone (1-10)
20 3 SP 0

Any spy movie that has ties into a Volvo sports car promotion seems doomed for mediocrity and a predictable formulaic plot. The Saint keeps to the tired spy movie formula that has come to typify every Bond movie since Sean Connery left the role except now every modern plot requires a tie into the internet and e-mail. However, certain fresh aspects of the characters give this Mission Impossible meets James Bond meets MacGyver movie enough spark to keep the audience entertained even if all of the tricks are old. Oddly, one can’t but come out of the theater feeling happy that the good guy indeed saves the day once again.

As a young orphan boy in a orphanage run by priests, Simon refuses to accept any name which they attempt to brand him with instead taking the name of Simon Templar after the Saint of magic. Deciding he can not stay in the orphanage, Simon decides to escape showing us his prowess in the orphanage at picking locks and climbing walls like a burglar. During his escape, Simon tragically causes the death of a childhood love as the priests release the hounds (in an orphanage?) to recapture him and the dogs end up pushing his girl over a balcony.

Simon Templar (Val Kilmer) grows up to be an exceptional thief with the added talent of master disguise. Simon sells his skills to the highest bidder and steals industrial secrets with the goal of retiring after he amasses $50M dollars. His opening theft in the movie to show us his prowess where he steals a microchip from a Russian industrialist who ironically later needs Templar’s services to steal a secret cold fusion formula from genius scientist Emma Russel (Elizabeth Shue) in his quest to become the next czar of Russia. While seducing Emma, Simon finds himself falling in love with the vulnerable scientist who has a heart of gold and an uncanny ability of seeing though the disguise that Simon has created to seduce her. Emma wishes to save the world by providing cheap clean endless energy.

As expected, after delivering the formula to the Russian industrialist, Rade Serbedzija, Rade attempts to double cross Simon by refusing to pay him and instead kill him by sending his Russia Mafioso son, Ilya, to do he job. Obviously Simon gets away and manages to extract the money owed to him by Rade. However, he does not manage to escape Russia as Emma enlists the Russian Police to arrest him almost sending him back into the clutches of Rade who have the police on his side. During their escape from the police, Emma’s love for him convinces him that he must redeem himself by stealing the formula back.

The writers certainly were trying to make a PG-13 rated Bond character, as Simon is not willing to use guns or kill people while attempting any of his thefts. At first glance, this is believable since a really good thief should leave no clues, but when the going gets bad – I am not the first to believe that Simon can escape with only his talents (who does he think he is MacGyver)? Truly if he is so cold hearted as to steal industrial secrets which will certainly cause pain for countless people, killing some bad guys who are out to murder him should not be a problem.

There are other ridiculous aspects to the plot as well. How is it that Emma is the only one able to track Simon down when he announces to every one that he meets that was named after a saint? It’s a nice touch but is Scotland Yard really that stupid? The Russian industrialist has "stolen" all of the heating oil in Russia and has some how hidden it under his building? What does he have under his building several oil tankers? I guess the most preposterous part of the plot is that the formula which Emma is working on is all on these little cards that will not work if not put in the correct order. Emma needs time during the movie to "finish her work" and she also needs these index cards to do it. Bull – if she invented the formula and needs to finish it by putting the pieces in order, she could do it from scratch or the Russian scientist who is trying to make the stolen formula work should easily be able to so. Unfortunately, we never actually believe that Emma is any kind of genius and the lines they give her in her classroom scene to "prove" her intelligence are simply retarded.

This movie has very few traditional action scenes and most of the action is really low key. The big Bond-like stunt is right at the beginning when Simon jumps off a 10+ story building. It also happens to be the only scene a Double Action viewer can really take any pleasure in. Jumping off a 10+ story building in slow-mo on to a huge water balloon is about all that we get. They only other memorable scene is Simon blowing up a Land Rover in same way Bruce Willis blew up the plane filled with soldier traitors in Die Hard 2. Yippee ki aay!!

When watching this movie, I can’t help thinking that to create Simon Templar the writers just took aspects from Bond, Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible), and MacGyver. Simon has all sorts of Bond gadgets from the Volvo supercar to the Nokia 9000 Communicator he uses to access the Internet to contact his potential customers. Simon’s disguise ability is just like that of Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible as is his use of the Internet and a Mac Powerbook. Finally his innovative and tricky side is just like MacGyver with his use of a penknife and his aversion to guns and killing.

As spy movies go, The Saint does an poor job of trying to freshen up the normally formulaic plot of so many spy films (At least he is not stealing and selling nuclear warheads.) Val Kilmer, a real actor and the best part of the movie, seems to have fun playing several characters, which require different faces, body mannerisms, and accents. Unlike Mission Impossible, where computer graphics are used to morph Tom Cruise’s face into that of his disguises, Val Kilmer has to don makeup and prosthetics to create his disguises most of which are rather impressive.

While the movie breaks no new ground in the spy action genre it is enjoyable if you are not expecting any gritty realism.


Bookmarked Scenes:

Innocence Lost
A young Simon watches as his "girlfriend" slips over a railing and falls to her death. Really, the Beatles's break up wasn't worth getting that upset over...how about a cookie?
This Spot Feels Warm
Simon jumps into a nearby freezing river and holds his breath underwater to avoid Ilya and his henchman. After freezing for several minutes, he realizes that he should have employed a devious technique mastered in his youth at the local swimming pool...
Fly Like an Eagle
Simon leaps off a 10 story building in a suave, debonair fashion to escape Ilya. Well, heck, he should be used to it by now - those payments on the Volvo C70 coupe are so expensive he has to dodge the repo man every morning!!!
Did You Leave the Fuel Door Open Again?
The soldiers getaway Land Rover sits vulnerably near an American Embassy. Pulling an "Axel Foley", Simon decides to sabatoge the vehicle. But instead of using a bananna up the tailpipe, he punctures the fuel line. Simon lights the spilling fuel trail, and the car explodes in the soldier's midst. John McClaine would have been proud.
Wait, That's Not Mistletoe!
A soldier, attracted to Simon's good looks, stands beneath a large chandelier in order to get closer to him. However, while Simon may have hidden in many places during his career, but a closet wasn't one of them. He shoots the chandelier from the ceiling onto the soldier. Needless to say, the soldier was crushed by Simon's rejection...

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