The Saint (1997)

Talk about the movie that almost never was.

Here’s a list of the actors asked to play the role but didn’t: Pierce Brosnan, Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Grant, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Depp, and Kevin Costner.  Val Kilmer probably wouldn’t have done it if he hadn’t passed on being Batman again (really good choice!).  Lead actors were the least of the movie’s worries too.

I think my biggest complaint is that it takes the Saint from modern-day Robin Hood and twists him into a spy for hire.  Yes, he steals the microchip and formulas, but the movie is written as an espionage thriller.  We get a fusion of Roger Moore’s tv show with Mission Impossible that is influenced by Kilmer’s stint in Batman Forever.

Aside from that it’s a pretty decent spy movie.  I liked it then and I like it now.  It gets a little pompous at times and overly melodramatic but that’s forgivable for this genre.  I thought Elisabeth Shue was terrible but can’t tell if it was the script or the actor.  She’s incredibly unconvincing as a scientist and swoons whenever she meets back up with Kilmer.  Her misplaced enthusiastic ignorance was off-putting and it would have been more enjoyable if she’d either been a non-scientist daughter chased for her father’s secrets or if she’d died like in the original ending.

The online steganography/substitution cipher was fun to see but it falls into the classic movie “code” which is as believable as “magic”.

Did I mention it’s a lot of fun to see?  Especially for a movie that’s 16 years old?