It's tough to beat a Bond movie at the box office, especially if your film is a B movie about cold fusion and goofy disguises.
Tomorrow Never Dies was released the same year as The Saint and it's easy to see why the Val Kilmer-starring vehicle faded away into nothing. For crying out loud, Never Dies had a remote controlled BMW! The Saint had Elisabeth Shue with a heart condition. That the latter was turned down by a plethora of actors from Mel Gibson to Arnold Schwarzenegger is no surprise. All the ingredients for a fun light-hearted thriller are there and yet The Saint suffers from having one of the least inspired scripts I've seen in a long time.
Who thought this was interesting?
Some stock Russian gangsters want to steal the formula for cold fusion in order to fix some unlikely election. Meanwhile, some guy called Simon Templar helps them but then doesn't. THE END.
116 minutes on THAT boring-ass story? Surely you jest. The opening titles of Tomorrow Never Dies alone were a million times more involving than this garbage. It really is all thanks to Val Kilmer's rightfully tongue-in-cheek approach that The Saint is watchable in any way. The absurd disguises and hilarious accents definitely add some welcome fun to the proceedings and Kilmer proves himself to be a worthy substitute for Roger Moore. If it weren't for Kilmer not taking things seriously at all, this would be one ungodly piece of DULL.
Seriously, who cares about that bullshit story? You mean no-one wants to take over the world from their underwater/Moon lair? What is this, real life?
This would all work fine as a pilot episode to a reboot of the original TV series and for that it would have actually been pretty decent. Sadly, this is a big budget wannabe rival to the Bond films and although the film made a profit down the line, that it originally was a flop is about as surprising as a guy with glasses crossing the road. This needed a bigger story altogether. It needed to either go all-out and reinvent Simon Templar as some kind of super cool action hero or stay low-key and just be a new TV series. In order for the former to happen though, the film would have needed to be radically different to the Bond franchise instead of being a cheaper retread with added wigs and fake moustaches.
This is really the film's main failure: it adds nothing new. Really, if you're going into it expecting to see something not generic, there's no reason to bother unless of course you happen to be a die-hard Val Kilmer fan or you've had a crush on Elisabeth Shue since Cocktail.
Like I said, as a curiosity it's ok: Kilmer's entertaining and the film itself reaches decent levels of silliness but ultimately you'll just be wishing you were watching Tomorrow Never Dies again. Poorly written, overproduced, unimaginative, uninteresting, The Saint is a forgettable half-assed romp which should please fans of rubbishy by-numbers blockbusters but few others.
A missed opportunity.