It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Saint'' is a James Bond wannabe, which is an irony, since James Bond in a way is a Saint clone. Leslie Charteris created his gentleman crook in 1926 and wrote about him in dozens of novels before his death in 1993. The Saint also inspired 14 movies, and a 1960s TV series starring Roger Moore, a future Bond.
When Ian Fleming began writing his Bond stories, he must have had the Saint in mind: The two characters share a debonair sophistication, a gift for disguise, a taste for beautiful women, a fetish for expensive toys, and a thorough working knowledge of fine wines and fast cars.
If the Saint inspired Bond, the Bond films have obviously inspired "The Saint,'' which stars Val Kilmer as Simon Templar, a man of constantly shifting appearances and identities. "Who are you?'' asks the woman who loves him. "No one has a clue,'' he says. "Least of all me.'' The movie opens with the Saint's origination story, although the time line seems a bit askew. The man who was to name himself after the Knights Templar spent his boyhood, we learn, in a Dickensian orphanage somewhere in the Far East. When the cruel headmaster locks all the food in a storage cart as a punishment, young Simon picks the lock, and is launched on his life of adventure.
What does he do? He steals things for people, sometimes with legal sanction, more often not. This Saint is more high-tech than his pulp predecessors, and uses a Mac Powerbook and a palmtop to dial the Internet and check on his Swiss bank account, which is creeping toward $50 million. His latest assignment is to steal the secret of cold fusion from an unsuspecting Oxford scientist named Emma Russell (Elisabeth Shue).