Making the Grades
There are a few formula bad guys that Hollywood can't let go. Even after the fall of the Berlin wall, we are still inundated by mysterious men speaking quasi-Russian-German accents. With scriptwriters searching for new ideas in this post-communism era, movies like The Saint still provide that Cold War flavor. Unlike other films where the fall of communism is ignored for dramatic pleasure, this film is set in Russia during the general instability that follows the overthrow of a communist government.
During a long winter where a heating oil shortage makes for cold homes and hot tempers, Simon Templar (Val Kilmer), a work for hire thief, is offered a few million by Russia's opposition leader Ivan Tretiak (Rade Serbedzija), in return for a formula that will unlock the key to cold fusion. Tretiak is convinced that the next-to-free energy will warm the hearts of Russians and give him an opportunity to overthrow the democratic government and place his regime in the Kremlin.
Enter Dr. Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue), a typically beautiful spy-movie scientist who holds the key to cold fusion in her cleavage on a few bits of paper. So the stage is set: Templar has to get the formula, and... I think you know what happens next. To make things even more convenient, Russell claims she just can't do anything that will get a man's attention. Personally, I think most men would take close notice of a woman with Shue's "physics," who stuffs her bra with formulas.
It's difficult to find new action intrigue films that are rated anything less than R. Although The Saint rates PG-13 by the MPAA, it will probably still not be suitable for most families. The story is intelligent and exciting, but violence is frequently exhibited and the language contains a few major expletives. Considering Templar's continual sexual fascination with Russell (a sexual relationship is openly portrayed), and the fact he has topped off his bank account with profits from shady deals, this "hero" is anything but a Saint.