All this good looks is balanced by a strong script going in to new Saint territory, and actors who may be new to Americans but are truly gifted. The Saint has been thrilling readers, movie goers and TV watchers since 1928, but no one has ever explained his origins as thief and magician until now. After getting through his childhood traumas, Simon Templar takes on the changing Russian political scene. Director Phillip Noyce had the great good sense to cast Russians in Russia. Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija is the industrialist with the plan involving Simon Templar's skills as thief and seducer. Serbedzija has starred in over forty films in the former Yugoslavia, co-founded the KPGT Theater, and toured Australia with the theater company in 1980. He is so refreshingly real! And his daughter Lucija also has a small part in "The Saint" as Sofiya, the tart. Valery Nikolaev is the son of Servejzija's character, and I'd better add his name to my spell-check. He does a bang-up job as Templar's arch-enemy and recently completed Oliver Stone's "U-Turn" with Sean Penn and Nick Nolte. We'll be seeing more from him, I'm certain.
All of this is masterfully assembled by director Noyce, an
Australian who caught my attention and everyone else's with "Dead
Calm" starring those Aussie favorites Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill.
Obviously the guy knows a thing or two about directing suspense, and
used it in his subsequent "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present
Danger" starring Harrison Ford. I predict "The Saint" will be big
box office since there aren't any more "Star Wars" releases this
week. And producer Robert Evans could use a hit after "The Phantom",
"Jade", and "Sliver". It has been a long time for Evans since
"Chinatown", "Marathon Man", or even "Urban Cowboy". But that's
another story. For now, stick with "The Saint" for non-James-Bond
depth in an action thriller. And just try to tell me that Val Kilmer
isn't the best looking thief since Robert Wagner. Rated R, Paramount
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