Reviewed by: Richard Fangrad
“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