Action/Adventure: A world class thief, who is a master of disguises, steals secret and innovative plans concerning a new form of energy for a power hungry Russian businessman.
Simon Templar (VAL KILMER) is a world-class thief and a master of disguises. After pulling off a microchip heist, Templar, who goes under the aliases of Catholic saints, is hired by Ivan Tretiak (RADE SERBEDZIJA) to steal cold fusion plans from U.S. scientist Emma Russell (ELISABETH SHUE). Tretiak is a Russian businessman who knows that if he can provide cheap heat in the brutally cold Russian winter, he'll not only become politically popular, but he'll make billions of dollars. When they discover that the plans for the energy source aren't complete, Ivan sends his son, Ilya (VALERI NIKOLAYEV) and his henchmen to find Simon and Emma and make her complete her work. From that point on, Simon and Emma must elude Ilya and his goons, while they become attracted to each other.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of Kilmer or Shue, or if they think this will be similar to a James Bond film, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For action violence, brief strong language, some sensuality and drug content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
VAL KILMER plays a professional thief who quickly, and falsely, romances Emma so as to steal her science work.
ELISABETH SHUE plays a scientist whose only bad trait is falling for and then staying with Simon.
This is a movie that desperately wants to be another James Bond film, but falls way short. While the film has similar overseas locales in Russia and London, beautiful women, and gadgets used for spying, this one lacks any pizzaz or real sense of fun. The stunts aren't that spectacular, the "bad guys" are lame Bond carbon copies, and the plot is rather lackluster in moving the story along. All of this is surprising since this character has been around since the late 1920's in novel form and then appeared on both the big and small screens (the later with Roger Moore in the 60's) and thus preceded the Bond films that it so desperately tries to emulate. Kilmer is decent in this role as it plays off his reputation for being aloof and he does have some fun in many of his disguises. Elisabeth Shue, however, is surprisingly bad in her role as the brainy scientist as she overacts the part, and never for an instance makes you believe she could have discovered the secrets to cold fusion. This is a shame because in the past she's been very good (receiving an Oscar nomination for "Leaving Las Vegas"), but this is a performance she should forget about. Many parts of the film are downright sloppy and ludicrous, especially the fact that both Simon and Emma read aloud to themselves (when they're alone), and Simon occasionally verbalizes his thoughts just so we know what's happening. That's an easy way to move the story along, but it's something most film makers abandon after their first year of film school. Almost as bad is a voice over narrative, but at least that dramatically and logically makes sense. Characters talking or reading aloud to themselves does not and director Phillip Noyce ("Dead Calm" and "Clear and Present Danger") should know better as he's made far superior films. Another illogical point is that Emma is the only person who realizes that since Simon always uses aliases that are the names of saints, he should be easy to find on airline manifests. Why the police have never figured this out, especially after Simon tells everyone he meets that he was named after a particular saint is a big, unanswered question. The film is also very opportunistic in that it always allows the bad guys to easily find Simon and Emma, even to the outrageous scene where Ilya parks his car right over top of the manhole that the two are about to emerge from. Some tongue-in-cheek films can get away with that, but this film doesn't. If you're going to do a Bond-like film or one that will obviously be compared to that series, you had better outdo Bond. Here they don't, and thus we give this film a 4 out of 10.
OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
While this film isn't overflowing with "bad" material, it does have certain elements that some may find objectionable. There is brief drug use (cocaine) by one character, and 1 "f" word is uttered for no apparent reason (there isn't much else profanity). A few mildly sensual scenes pop up here and there, but none of them are too graphic. There is some violence with a few people being killed, but most of it is used to create suspense where our two characters are put into harm's way.
We gave the "Imitative Behavior" category a "heavy" rating due to a modified Russian roulette scene where a gun is placed to Simon's head with just one bullet in it and a one-in-six chance of him being shot when the trigger is pulled. On another note, parents of girls should point out that although Shue plays a "nerdy" scientist, she should still be smart enough not to stick by Kilmer's character who has stolen from her and caused her life to be in danger. Here she plays the doe-eyed woman who follows her big Hollywood man everywhere and it's not a great presentation (it's not as bad as that, but it's close). If you or your kids want to see this film, you should first read the content listings to determine how appropriate it is for you and/or them.
Some viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as also being tense and/or suspenseful.
Young Simon's "girlfriend" falls to her death after she slips over a railing and hits the floor several stories below.
To elude Ilya and his goons, Simon must hold his breath underwater in a near freezing river.
Simon and Emma are chased through a house and then up onto a roof where they then slide down an interior shaft to safety, but not before Ilya and his men fire guns down at them.
Simon and Emma find themselves wading through a water tunnel that is currently empty, but in several minutes will fill up again. As they try to open an escape hatch, the water quickly begins filling the tunnel.
Ilya hits Simon several times and then holds a gun to Simon's head, playing Russian roulette with him (one bullet and spinning the round and then pulling the trigger).
After Simon watches Emma put her chemistry secrets into her bra he tells her, "I just wanted to watch you put that away. What else do you keep in there?" She replies, "Nothing," to which he says, "That's not true."
Emma tells Simon, "Take off your pants -- I mean your sweater..." after she notes that his sweater is spotted with his blood. He then tells her that she has blood on her, so she unbuttons her dress and he briefly feels her breast (and she's seen in her bra and underwear. They passionately kiss and she takes off her bra, but due to the way the scene is shot, no nudity is seen. They then get into bed, but they don't do anything other than cuddle.
Sensing that Simon's suffering from hypothermia, Emma removes his clothes (conveniently sitting atop his groin area), and then unbuttons her clothing and lies on top of him to warm his body.
Simon and Emma passionately kiss and begin to remove their clothes (but no nudity is seen). She says, "I want you." He asks, "For how long," and she replies, "It doesn't matter." They then kiss some more and fall onto the bed but nothing more is seen.