Movie Review

The Saint

Reviewed by: Richard Fangrad
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
14 to Adult
Genre:
Action/Adventure
Length:
115 min.

Starring: Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedjiza, Valery Nikolaev / Director: Phillip Noyce / Released by: Paramount Pictures

“The Saint” is a story about a thief (Val Kilmer) who is hired by a former communist politician turned oil billionaire, to steal the mathematical formula for cold fusion. He plans to use it to crown himself as the new Russian Czar. Dr. Emma Russel (Elisabeth Shue) is the physicist who claims to have developed a working model for the cold fusion process.

The movie begins at an orphanage, where we learn about the events which drove young Simon Templar (The Saint) to a life as a thief, and why he uses the disguises and alternate identities of Catholic saints in his career of crime.

While Simon is in the process of studying Emma to devise a method to steal the formula from her, he falls in love. He begins to regret the underhanded methods that he must employ in order to seduce her and steal the formula, but he’s an undercapitalized thief with only $47 million dollars in the bank. He “needs” the payoff from this job to put him over his retirement goal of $50 million, so he completes the job anyway.

With some major crime fighting organizations (i.e., Scotland Yard) hot on his trail, he barely has time to check out of his hotel before he is, temporarily, captured.

Meanwhile, the power-hungry Russian billionaire’s chief scientist suspects that the formula is incomplete and therefore unusable. Ivan Tretiak (the billionaire power-munger) demands that Simon get the rest of it. When Simon refuses, Ivan sends his goons to kill him and to bring Emma to his lab to complete the formula.

Forced together by necessity and love, Simon and Emma elude both Scotland Yard and the Russian mafia. As they are drawn ever-closer together, Emma becomes more and more curious as to who Simon really is underneath all of his disguises.

Eventually Tretiak resigns himself to the fact that the cold fusion formula won’t work. But it LOOKS good. Really good. So he changes his tactics: he sells the formula to the Russian President for a huge sum of money and then immediately turns around and accuses the President of selling out the Russian people who have been freezing to death because of an oil shortage.

During a large public address (filmed on location in Red Square with 2,000 extras) Tretiak plans to expose the President’s promise of “free energy” as a lie. Little does he know that Emma has worked the bugs out of the formula and that it DOES work! When the crowd sees this Tretiak and his goons decide to make a hasty exit. As for what happens to Simon and Emma… well, you’ll just have to see the movie!

In my opinion, “The Saint” is worth seeing just for the amazing characters that Val Kilmer plays. Some of them are funny while others are such convincing disguises that it’s hard to “see” Val. It’s as if another actor has stepped into the role. If you like action-adventure, this movie has a distinctly different “Russian” flavour which brings in a whole new look. (Something that the filmmakers deliberately tried to do.) The two lead actors really make the film. Their performances make the movie.

As for the negatives: there’s just a bit of everything. There’s some violence, guns and some fight scenes—nothing gory. Sexual activity is implied, but there is no nudity. There are profanities and several instances of taking our Lord’s name in vain. Since the lead character is a thief, he has developed his own standard of right and wrong. In order to get what he wants he needs to deceive people. Naturally this type of thing is incompatible with a Christian/biblical worldview.

In the movie a saint is described as “someone who is very good and usually dead.” The true definition of what it means to be a saint can be found in the Bible (Eph. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:2). Saints are described as those who have decided to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, the first of which is to acknowledge that only He can forgive the wrongs that we’ve all done (sin). Once that’s done then WE become the saints.

…By the way: cold fusion is (theoretically) a method of obtaining a nearly inexhaustable source of clean energy. In March 1989 two scientists claimed to have been able to initiate the fusion reaction at room temperature, instead of the several million degrees Celsius that it normally requires. Efforts to duplicate their results have not been successful.

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
…The only reason that Simon Templar chooses to carry out the delivery of the formula for cold fusion to Ivan Trediak is because Trediak said to Simon (via e-mail), “If I don’t get the formula, I’ll have my men come after the woman.” He was TRULY interested in her welfare… NOT JUST HIS PAYCHECK! Also, I wonder why so many Christians couldn’t appreciate it. The symbolism was very deep and you had to be quick and extremely educated to catch it all. For instance, did ANYONE notice that Simon’s password to his bank account in Zurich just happened to be “Barabbas”? Or, did anyone notice the reactions of the officers in Scotland Yard when Emma Russell realized all of Simon’s aliases were Catholic Saints? They gave her a blank look… owing, of course, to the fact that they were BRITISH, therefore PROTESTANT!…
—Raistlin
…the only reason to see this movie is to see Val Kilmer’s many characters. I thought this movie, otherwise, was stupid. I mean this guy sleeps with this woman than steals her life’s work and eventually she falls for him anyway, come on. This guys' life is stealing and deception, not good. At the end, does he realize that he has sinned? No—instead they show a halo (come on!) over his head. Please. I had to crack up when I saw that one. I would suggest to all viewers out there to stay away from this movie. Please, it’s for your own good!
I found this movie to be slightly entertaining but overall pretty lame. It had some profanity, sexual scenes, and violence. I am not really offended by violence or mild profanity. But the f word, GD, and the word for a female dog offend me. It had a few of those but overall it wasn’t too bad. A man playing a thief who used saints' names and who was portrayed as a hero is insane. I think a Christian rating of 1-2 would be more appropriate.
—Daniel, age 14
My brother, who isn’t a Christian, got a kick out of this movie. He loves watching movies where the guys use shallow pick up lines and methods to attract women. This is NOT a movie for kids, since there is sex and lies. It is corny though how the stars always managed to meet each other. I have to admit, though, that this guy (Kilmer) was “devilishly” smooth with his words. So adults, watch and laugh at it…
—Miller, age 21
I think as Christians, judging from the other comments and the review, we often become desensitized to the World, and allow our standards to be pulled down. The Saint was entertaining, but the numerous sex scenes, all involving fornication of course, did more than imply. They were much too explicit, and teach us, by example, that casual sex is what heroes do. Sorry, but it wasn’t what my favorite Hero did—he preached against it.
—Steve, age 52
Lloyd Jones review is on target. Often we look at today’s movies from the standpoint of “it had no sex scenes” or “there wasn’t that much swearing,” then it is acceptable. The Saint is entertaining, from a wordly sense, but as Lloyd points out,” The implicit and explicit moral messages in this movie are not only worldly, situational, and trivial, they are anti-christian and destructive to the young christian.”
—Michael Murry, age 38
My sister saw this own and as a moderate fan of Val Kilmer movies, she was very let down. All the good scenes were given away in the commercials, there were a lot of preposterous(spelling?) plot twists like how stupid the ultra-smart mastermind scientist was. A complete disappointment, she’d give it about a 3 out of 10. By a Kilmer comparison, “Willow” and “The Ghost and the Darkness” (both of which I’ve seen, too), deserve at least an 8 apiece.
—Michael C., age 15
Aside from the gloriously mindless entertainment factor of this movie, I was taken aback by the absolutely shameless commercial product placements in the film. we’re all used to seeing the stars drinking Coke (can turned to the audience ever so carefully) and driving whatever car the producers were able to get donated, but when our heroes stop in the middle of an instense chase scene in the sewers so that the beautiful French mercenary can inquire if that is a “[brand name] [model name]” watch, we have crossed the line from simple product placement to built in ad spots within the movie. Pahleeeseee!
—Todd C. Truffin, age 27
Ignoring morality, The Saint was entertaining. Obviously, it glorified and supported thievery, lying, misrepresentations through disguises, and premarital sex (implied). If you are not easily swayed from your beliefs, the movie is entertaining. Perhaps young Christians should avoid this one.
—Tim Emmerich, age 29
The implicit and explicit moral messages in this movie are not only worldly, situational, and trivial, they are anti-christian and destructive to the young christian. The first scene, which sets the foundation for the Saint’s later behavior, portrays the Catholic priests as hateful, brutal, insensitive, vindictive, arrogant, and remorseless. The main boy prevails (we cheer for him!) through prideful stubbornness (won’t submit to priest’s orders), deceit (hides knife), and (what becomes lifelong) hate. The ends justify the means. Sex is expected if your clever. Acquisition is an applauded goal. The whole concept of a saint is viciously twisted.
—Lloyd Jones, age 48
I really enjoyed this movie. Had it not been for the sexual content of the film. I agree with the 3 Christian Rating. With some editing it could have been a 4. One of the better films of 1997.
—Brian McClimans, age 22
In my opinion, The Saint was a very well-made movie with little offensive material. The only offensive scenes were those scenes which included pre-marital sexual innuendo. …This movie is rated PG-13 and appropriately so. Young children should not see this film, mainly because of some sexual situations, mild profanity, and some violence.
—Jeremy