Blue Ice (1992)

screenshot from Blue Ice

Directed by: Russell Mulcahy
Screenwriter(s): Ron Hutchinson (based on the Ted Allbeury novels)
Starring: Michael Caine, Sean Young, Ian Holm, Alun Armstrong, Sam Kelly, Jack Shepherd, Phil Davis, Todd Boyce, Bob Hoskins
Genre: Spy / Thriller
Country: UK
Running time: 1h 31m
Rating: 3 out of 10

Putting to one side, for a moment, the film work of Robert Carlyle, Hugh Grant and Ewan McGregor, most British films aren't that good. This should not be totally surprising, because most films aren't that good. The vast majority of films made around the world each year don't even get a faint whiff of a video/DVD release, never mind a run in cinemas.

The situation in Britain only seems so bad because our films pretty much all get a cinema release at home, so you judge the films alongside big budget, pretty cast, blockbuster fare. This inevitably makes the plucky Brit effort seem almost unjustly second rate.

This is not the case with Blue Ice. It would seem second rate next to almost any film - even the made for cable dreck that fills up the late night TV slots starring Cheryl Ladd, Joanna Kerns or any of the ex-cast of Beverley Hills 90210.

The plot - if you can call it that - is a piece of tosh about international arms dealing, involving members of the British and American secret services. At best, it's a confused mess of three sub-par films badly edited together - bittersweet romance, post Cold War spy movie and cheap thriller.

Your heart will sink to know that the bittersweet romance is with Sean Young, who won two Golden Razzies (Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress) for her twin roles in A Kiss Before Dying. Actually, that's not fair. I like Sean Young. The woman has style and, by God, she's a trier. This is a woman who sold her own autographed pre-worn underwear on her website. When demand went into the thousands and she couldn't cope, Sean marched down to a department store and camped in the changing rooms, gallantly trying 100s of pairs of unmentionables on, just so no-one would be let down. This is how you keep a fan base. But, game though Sean is, her dialogue is so risible that not even she can force her lines out convincingly.

The post Cold War part wastes what could have been a fairly thoughtful piece on what happens to the Harry Palmers of this world when their country no longer needs them. (Caine's character is also called Harry, by the way.) Instead, we are left with the somewhat unedifying sight of two such fine peers of the realm as Sir Michael Caine and Sir Ian Holm (playing Harry's old MI6 boss) running about London's Docklands with sub-machine guns. It's not pretty.

There are, however, some things to be treasured in this film. Caine plays the whole affair as if he's in a different film from everyone else. And his film is a spoof. There's also the most deliciously over-the-top hallucination scenes which involve Michael Caine talking to himself - literally, as there are two Caines on screen - when Harry's been injected with a truth serum. This is possibly the most inspired piece of truly awful film-making you will ever see and somehow a throwback to the kind of Man from UNCLE late sixties school of spy movies.

And the final scene, when poor Michael offers a champagne toast to a departing plane on the runway at Heathrow, has to be seen to be believed. It would, as my mother is fond of saying, bring tears to a glass eye

This was the first film from Michael's own production company, M&M Productions, which he formed with Martin Bregman. The intention was to develop projects for Michael Caine to direct and/or star in. Due to the lack of success of the film, this was also the last film from M&M Productions.

Other films also starring Bob Hoskins