This B-movie action film is more like a C-movie.
I’m told that “There Are No Saints” was filmed in 2012, and took years to find a studio to try to sell it. Saban Films is the only one willing yo distribute it, but the film still should have stayed in the ice. It’s a B-movie action film with the run-of-the-mill formulas, violent images, and some corny dialogue. In fact, I either smiled or laughed at how cheesy they are.
It was written by Paul Schrader, whose last film “The Card Counter” was on my Top 10 Best Films of 2021 list. “There Are No Saints” is an exercise in the formulas of killers, choices, and tortures-the obligatory elements of a crime drama. It’s just unoriginal.
The best performance in the film, at the very least, is Jose Maria Yazpik as Neto Niente, a hitman nicknamed “the Jesuit,” who manages to cheat the death row sentence, when a testimony was changed to “not guilty.” Therefore, he’s free from prison. I’ve never heard of this actor. I wouldn’t have recognized his name in the credits. But either way, he has his vulnerabilities to make his portrayal of an unlikable man likable.
He wants to restart fresh by reconnecting with his son Julio (Keidrich Sellati), who is probably the only one to pray for his release. His ex-wife and mother of their boy Nadia (Paz Vega) wants Neto out of their lives, while dealing with the abusive relationship of her current boyfriend-the cartel boss Vincent (Neal McDonough)-who also sells condos.
Vincent has murdered Nadia, kidnapped Julio, and took him across the border of Mexico. Neto is now labeled the kidnapper by the feds, but he must find and rescue his son. So he pays a stripper named Inez (Shannyn Sossamon) to play his wife as they cross the border, and as she has to seduce the kidnapper.
The other characters in the story have to include Neto’s friend Carl (Tim Roth), the gun runner Jet Rink (Tommy Flannagan), and the ex-ATF agent Sans (Ron Perlman), who is revealed as the head honcho in the kidnapping plot. I spoiled that for you because McDonaugh overacts in the role, and isn’t even close to convincing or scary, whereas Perlman has the age and tough nature to play a villain, who needs the boy for drastic reasons.
About my complaints on the movie’s torture scenes, there’s one in particular I really hate, and that involves a finger nail being taken off in a most disturbing way. I hate torture scenes with finger nails. And it doesn’t just have to be for torture scenes. In fact, it’s the only reason why I couldn’t give the Reese Witherspoon hiking film 4 stars (rather 3 and a half stars). Cut out that introduction, and then, we would of had the perfect movie. I don’t care if these scenes are real or fake; I just hate them. I can’t even look at those images, and that same applies for “There Are No Saints.”
Schrader has written some of the very best films in the past from “Taxi Driver” to “The Card Counter,” but this isn’t one of his brightest moments. I know this has been on ice for years, but it still fails to reach those films’ full-throttle potential. Yazpik and Perlman both give the most interesting performances in the film, but the rest of these otherwise fine talents are just wasted as standard, formulaic characters.
It’s often suggest that it’s no fun to pick on a small film, and as you know, I’m a film critic who sticks up for the little guy, but even the tiniest of things have to grow up. “There Are No Saints” isn’t a bad film; it’s just unnecessary.
In Select Theaters and Streaming On Demand This Friday