With one bad casting decision, the makers of "The Saint" -- based on a 1928 Leslie Charteris story, expanded upon in an RKO film series in 1938, and made most famous by Roger Moore in the '60s British TV show -- limit their action-thriller to being nothing more than a two-hour chuckle-fest. Elisabeth Shue as a physicist who perfects cold fusion? Have you ever heard her talk? This is someone who sounds like she could make an adventure out of opening the refrigerator.
Introducing The Saint (Val Kilmer) and his skill at disguises and thievery doesn't present much of a challenge for director Phillip ("Sliver") Noyce, so he adds a confounding plotline to spice things up a bit. Subtitles, right-wing Russian fanatics, incomprehensible action -- this film has enough tangents to make a cold fusion physicist feel like, well, Elisabeth Shue.
The Saint falls in love with physicist Emma Russell (Shue) while stealing her secret formula at the behest of a nutty, right-wing Russian billionaire, Ivan Tretiak (Rade Serbedzija). When the formula doesn't work, Tretiak has his son (Valery Nikoaev) hunt The Saint and Emma down. Unfortunately, Tretiak's son carries around a cane, which allows his enemies to know whenever he's coming around a corner or stepping out of a car.
The first big groaner in "The Saint" is when we learn of Emma's heart condition, which is not only a medical problem but also a metaphor for The Saint's inability to love. How cute. The second groaner is a sewer scene that relies on such an unlikely freak coincidence, you'll be forced to conclude that The Saint must be owed a significant debt by the Lord Almighty himself.
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