Picks and Pans Review: The Saint
Val Kilmer, who plays Simon Templar, the mysterious gentleman thief known as the Saint, really got into the spirit of his character. Spirit gum, that is. The actor must have used gallons of the stuff while gluing on all the different wigs and facial hair he models here. He changes accents just as frequently. Oh, look, he's a Russian soldier. Now he's an effete German gen X-er. And, geez, isn't that Kilmer as a goofy American scientist? But all this quick-change stuff can't disguise the fact that The Saint is a really big yawn and a sprawling mess to boot.
Kilmer is playing a role previously assayed by, among others, George Sanders and Roger Moore. But Kilmer, director Phillip Noyce and the screenwriters want to make their Templar a darker, more conflicted fellow than the Savile Row rogue of the previous outings. This Templar, now a Yank living in London, may be a master of disguise, but deep down he is at a loss as to who he really is. At least, that is, until love finds him. The movie's hopelessly dopey plot has Kilmer stealing the formula for cold fusion from an American scientist at Oxford (Shue) at the behest of a corrupt Russian politician and then—still with me?—coming to Shue's rescue when her life is imperiled by the same baddie. All of this necessitates much country-hopping and Kilmer donning endless outfits (including a perhaps unintentional homage to Carol Burnett's charwoman).
Shue, so scorching as the sad prostitute in 1995's Leaving Las Vegas, has little to do here except explain cold fusion as if she were reciting a recipe for prizewinning meat loaf, score fashion points by wearing knee socks with high heels and smile adoringly at Kilmer. As for Kilmer, well, his performance is so vaingloriously bad, it's almost fun. For this he gave up a second chance to play Batman? Guess the Joker's on him. (PG-13)