The Saint is a 1997 film based on the character of Simon Templar created by Leslie Charteris. The film stars Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, and Rade erbedija. It was directed by Phillip Noyce and written by Jonathan Hensleigh and Wesley Strick.
In the movie, Templar is caught trying to steal a microchip from Ivan Tretiak, an ex-communist-turned-billionaire who dominates the gas and oil market in Moscow. Tretiak hires Templar to steal the formula for cold fusion from an American scientist named Dr. Emma Russell in exchange for the $8 million needed for him to reach $50 million, the amount Templar needs in order to retire from thievery for life. Assuming the identity of Thomas More, Templar locates Dr. Russell and attempts to get close enough to steal the formula, but things get very complicated shortly after he realizes he is falling for her...
In this version, Kilmer's character does not claim to be the Simon Templar created by Charteris. He is, in fact, an orphan who chooses his name, Simon Templar — the first name from Simon Magus, and the last name from his childhood heroes, the Knights Templar. He refers to himself as Templar only during a flashback sequence at the start of the film.
It should be noted that a) fans of the Saint loathe this movie and b) Leslie Charteris is never mentioned in the credits. Ironically, despite the noted dissonance between this film and the rest of the franchise, it was produced by the same producer who oversaw the 1960s Roger Moore TV series and 1978 Ian Ogilvy revival, and Moore himself provided a voiceover cameo. Even more ironic, for the novelisation of the movie, Burl Barer, a noted Simon Templar historian, was commissioned to write the book, and he took the opportunity to add elements of traditional Saint continuity to the book; around the same time, perhaps to absolve himself of the sin of being connected to this film, he wrote a "traditional" Saint novel, Capture the Saint, which was the first new Saint novel in 13 years.
The Saint provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adrenaline Makeover: Emma, in more ways than one. She even makes a Lampshade Hanging that, even if she is an Ill Girl (heart condition) and thus needs them to live, she hadn't needed to take her pills for a while now (after almost keeling over on the back of a police van and Simon gave her a pair that he had palmed off and running all over Moscow for hours).
- Beeping Computers: Full of Hollywood-class super-encryption software that can turn chats between crooks into fully legit articles on tropical flowers on the fly.
- Adorkable: Emma is socially-awkward in a sweet and endearing way.
- Artistic License Physics: Not for the premise of someone discovering cold fusion, but for the means by which they do it. In a lecture, Emma provides absolutely no theoretical background or experimental results on which to base her discovery other than to simply write the finished formula on a chalkboard. She openly admits that the entire discovery was based on a gut feeling and hand waves the authenticity of her formula by claiming it's too beautiful to be wrong. Nobody in her audience (who are implied to also be trained scientists) objects to this.
- The Cameo: At the end of the movie the voice of Roger Moore is heard as a radio news narrator mentioning what happened to the arrested Russians, the solving of the heating problem in Moscow, and Emma's cold fusion research getting funded through an Involuntary Charity Donation.
- Car Cushion: Used as a means of escape in the first heist of the film (the truck was deliberately loaded with carboard boxes on the back by Simon).
- Character Name Alias: All of Templar's aliases are the names of Catholic saints.
- Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Not adapted from a comic book, but in all other ways plays the trope straight.
- Corporal Punishment: In the flashback, the priest in charge of the orphanage repeatedly canes Simon while he's bent double in an attempt to get him to accept the name "John Rossi". He doesn't even cry out.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ivan Tretiak. The reason Moscow is undergoing a freezing crisis that has people on the streets rioting and burning everything they can afford to burn in order to keep warm is because he siphoned the oil from the city's heating reserves and hid it on the basement of his home, he invests in cold fusion technology (and when it looks like the tech is useless, he swindles President Karpov into buying it from him... and tried to capture Dr. Russell (so she would make the technology work... and then kill her so would have exclusivity over it)), hires Simon to steal the technology (and then tried to kill him so he wouldn't have to pay), and performed all of these things so he would be able to perform a coup and take over Russia (with full intent of moulding it back into the superpower it was on the Cold War).
- Denied Food as Punishment: As a boy, when Simon refused to answer to the religiously themed name given to him by the priests at his orphanage even after being whipped, they declared that not only would he not be fed until he acknowledged his name, none of the other boys would be fed either. Simon held out until the priests left, then picked the lock to the pantry.
- Engineered Public Confession: Used in reverse. Simon Templar convinces the Russian president to accept Tretiak's accusations of investing state funds in a fraudulent cold-fusion machine project, rather than deny it. When the machine proves to actually work, the president instantly becomes a national hero and Tretiak's credibility is destroyed.
- Fake-Out Make-Out: Simon and Emma, to keep some Russian cops from noticing them while they try to reach the U.S. Embassy.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Well, it took about a week. She was mad at him so they had to take things slow.
- Go-to Alias: Simon Templar uses various names from Catholic saints for his aliases (even talking about said saints when the other guy doesn't gets the picture. On the books, he liked to use the alias "Sebastian Tombs").
- Hollywood Nerd: Emma, who becomes less nerdy the more time she spends in Templar's company.
- Hot Scientist: Dr. Emma Russell. Her Establishing Character Moment even has Simon (in disguise, attending one of her lectures) thinking she's somebody else because of her looks... until she's summoned by the lecture's orator.
- Simon (upon noticing he just put his foot in his mouth by disparaging her by mistake): Oops.
- I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Emma, almost word for word.
- Infant Immortality: Averted in the very first scene when a little girl called Agnes, who the young Simon is attracted to (and vice versa), falls to her death in the orphanage.
- Information Wants to Be Free: Emma has invented cold fusion, thus solving the world's energy problems. Naturally, many folks want this information quashed.
- Intimate Healing: Emma saving Simon from hypothermia after he is forced to hide from bad guys in a nearly-frozen river and afterwards they both must hole up in an unheated house.
- Involuntary Charity Donation: The radio broadcast on the final scene tells us that all of Tretiak's money was "mysteriously" given away to various charity funds and the remainder was used to start a foundation with the mission to assist with cold fusion research: the "Emma Russell Foundation".
- Lost in a Crowd: Simon's first heist has him escaping from Tretiak's goons by means of dressing like a hobo and walking alongside another one through Red Square (it helps that it was full of people like that as a result of the heating crisis). Later Simon manages to go to Emma's lecture on the last scene and sit right next to the leader of the Interpol task force that is hunting him down almost unnoticed because of his disguise (and once he ditches it, his other costume makes the Interpol people confuse him for some random British guy that is dressed the same... and the latter gets tackled by the cops as a result).
- Lovable Rogue: Simon Templar, although it's not until he deals with Emma that he finally performs something not totally mercenary.
- Lzherusskie: Rade erbedija as Ivan Tretiak, a "humble Russian poet" (with a best-selling book) and a "simple dream" (to Make the Bear Angry Again).
- Master of Disguise: Simon, natch. It is not until he appears alongside Karpov on the film's denouement that Interpol finally gets a clear picture of how he looks without a costume, after years hunting him down (and he still manages to sit right next to the task force's ranking officer in the very last scene, almost unnoticed).
- Mr Fan Service: Val Kilmer in his African artist role, getting money out of his pants, in a way that suggests he is wearing no underwear.
- Ms Fan Service: Elizabeth Shue in shirt and bobby socks.
- Not Staying for Breakfast: When Simon bails on Emma (after romancing her, staying the night, and stealing her formula for cold fusion) he leaves behind a bunch of notes reading "I'm sorry".
- Oh, Crap!: Tretiak, Ilya, and General Sklarov after the cold fusion machine works and the crowd starts cheering for President Karpov.
- One Last Job: Simon has a financial goal: fifty million dollars on his account and he calls it quits with being a thief. He hopes the Russell job will be the one which will give him the necessary paycheck...
- Out-Gambitted: Tretiak tries to get the cold fusion formula in order to force current president Karpov out of office and install himself. When his pet scientist can't make it work, he tries to get his money back and continue his original plan by getting Karpov to endorse it. Except Emma completes the formula and Simon gives it to Tretiak's scientist (who is not aware of Tretiak's new plan) completes the work and gives it to Tretiak. Simon also tells Karpov to agree that he supported it. It works, Karpov is hailed as a hero, and Tretiak and his allies are arrested.
- Parental Abandonment: Simon is an orphan.
- Patron Saint: The eponymous Saint discusses (inaccurately, but we'll let it slide) what it takes to be made a Catholic Saint, and he kinda-sorta manages the "Three Miracles" part, at least.
- Police are Useless: Interpol. It's not until Emma talks to them about halfway through the film that they finally, after years of hunting Simon, get that his aliases follow the motif of being named after Catholic saints, for starters.
- Safety in Muggles: Templar meets with Tretiak and his son to discuss the Russell job inside of an airport's transit room, which has hefty security, metal detectors and plenty of witnesses if something goes wrong (he mentions that they both will be safe that the other side has been searched thoroughly). Ilya and Tretiak point out right after Simon arrives that they couldn't care less of a damn to try to kill him regardless if they actually wanted to.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: From the very first moment he's on screen, Ilya Tretiak shows a rather impressive capacity to know when Simon is around, in several scenes looking almost psychic. The plot, more than Simon's capacity for stealth, is the reason Ilya doesn't gets him for most of the film.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: As Tretiak tries to escape the rally, General Sklarov orders his troops to catch him and apologizes to President Karpov, blaming a miscommunication in the chain of command. He's still arrested.
- Technical Pacifist: Oddly, the original Saint had no such code (and indeed, periodically shot people).
- 20 Minutes into the Future.
- Themed Aliases: All of Simon Templar's aliases are the names of Catholic saints, including Martin De Porres, Bruno Hartenfaust, and Thomas More.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Emma keeps the notes containing her cold fusion formula in her bra.