Stars: Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedija. Written by Jonathan Hensleigh and Wesley Strick. Directed by Phillip Noyce. Rated PG-13 for violence, adult themes.

I’d call "The Saint" the first summer blockbuster if only summer weren’t two months away. This kind of top-notch escapist fare is usually reserved for the warmer months when kids are out of school and willing to spend gobs of time and money to be entertained. Val Kilmer stars as the title character, an international thief who makes millions per assignment. Known also as a human fly, he is able to thwart the most impressive of security systems.

Simon Templar (Kilmer) is the name that a young, nameless boy bestowed upon himself when forced to take the moniker of a Catholic saint. These days, as a thirty-something thief, he often chooses the names of other saints to go along with his variety of disguises. In the film, his first assignment is to pilfer a microchip that has been locked away by a wealthy Russian (Rade Serbedija) with political aspirations. His next assignment, which is to steal the secret of cold fusion from an American scientist, is given to him self-same Russian . Matters become complicated when Simon develops feelings for Dr. Russell (Elisabeth Shue), the brilliant physicist who is only hours away from finishing her revolutionary equation.

With its engaging mix of suspense international espionage, "The Saint" is the action-adventure that last year’s "Mission: Impossible" should have been. Kilmer, too often underrated and an actor, proves adept at mastering accents and personalities of a myriad of characters. The plot follows an intelligent and intelligible course, unlike the Tom Cruise flick, and will cause audiences everywhere to clamor for a sequel. Move over James Bond.

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