A hitman on the highway (Keifer Sutherland) picks up a drifter (Melora Walters) who turns out to be a bit of a head-case. Deciding she might make a good assistant (and bed partner), he hires her to help him out in his hit-man duties… but is she really a head-case or perhaps an agent of the law?A TV or straight to video movie at best, Desert saints is nonetheless a handy TV movie that doesn’t waste your time. The performances are strong, even though Melora Walters (Jimmy Gator’s daughter in Magnolia) is hardly the femme fatale that the movie could have used. Sutherland too is starting to hit that Sylvester Stallone ‘middle aged but doesn’t yet know it’ time of life where roles such as these don’t quite work anymore, but older roles just seem wrong.
Rookie writer/director Richard Greenberg bursts onto the scene with a capable first outing, which is hardly surprising as the guy has a long list of credits as assistant director under his belt from 1986 on. Greenberg extracts a solid desert noir thriller out of not a lot of budget and has assembled a capable ensemble of sub-characters to keep things from getting too boring. Where he comes unstuck is in trying to do too much with flashbacks and plot twists that are usually only fun when they’ve been hinted at earlier.
Ditto, Greenberg falls victim to a couple of plot holes that defy any kind of logic – like why a hit-man on the run would pick up a hitchhiker to begin with, let alone hire someone he meets on the side of the road as an assistant.With fine back-up performances by Rachel Ticotin, Jamey Sheridan, and Leslie Stefanson, this really is a worthy first feature and though it tends to get a little slow in patches, especially around the sex scenes, as a 2am Cinemax flick Desert Saints is decent viewing.