Combustible Celluloid
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With: José María Yazpik, Shannyn Sossamon, Neal McDonough, Paz Vega, Tommy Flanagan, Tim Roth, Brian Cox, Ron Perlman, Keidrich Sellati
Written by: Paul Schrader
Directed by: Alfonso Pineda Ulloa
MPAA Rating: R for strong and disturbing violence, language throughout, sexual content, nudity and some drug use
Running Time: 100
Date: 05/27/2022

There Are No Saints (2022)

1 Star (out of 4)

Jesuit Desserts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Inexplicably written by Paul Schrader, the action/thriller There Are No Saints is not only totally generic, but it also borders on offensive with its racial stereotypes and its violence against women and children.

An ex-hitman, Neto Niente, nicknamed "The Jesuit" (José María Yazpik) is released from prison, indicted for a crime he did not commit, which involved the death of a police officer. His lawyer (Tim Roth) warns him to get out of town or face police retribution. But Neto wants to see his son, Julio (Keidrich Sellati), even though his ex-wife Nadia (Paz Vega), has a new boyfriend, violent criminal Vincent (Neal McDonough).

It's not long before Neto is attacked, several times, and before Julio is kidnapped. So Neto must dive back into the underworld and reach out to his old contacts to find clues as to Julio's whereabouts. With help from a stripper, Inez (Shannyn Sossamon), Neto heads to a final showdown to rescue his son.

There Are No Saints was actually shot in 2012 and has been sitting on the shelf ever since, despite an endorsement by Schrader himself, who apparently wanted to write a simple exploitation movie. It's hard to say what might have happened to the movie since then, but the 2022 release is very hard to take, given the shift in values after the George Floyd murder and the #MeToo movement. The material here is primitive, and taken so seriously that it's impossible to see it as anything other than revolting.

It's hardly entertaining, in any case. The lead character is meant to be some kind of a vengeance-fueled action hero (the original title was The Jesuit), but his character flatlines early; he has no arc, and very little personality. Sossamon's Inez is a laughable love interest for him, a "stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold" who falls so hard that she walks into the lion's den for him. (At least character actors like Tim Roth, Brian Cox, and Ron Perlman inject some life into their brief scenes.)

Meanwhile, the action sequences are twitchy and hard to follow, and even surveillance camera footage seems to be hand-held for some reason. The real puzzler is trying to grasp how There Are No Saints may once have come from Schrader, and now belongs at the bottom of his filmography.

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