Blue IceIt’s when something unexpected and wonderful falls on you out of a clear blue sky and changes your life.

This is what retired British agent Michael Caine refers to Sean Young as after crossing her path in an auto accident which leads to her joining him in his jazz club and before we know it spending the night with the one time Harry Palmer of the 1960’s spy set.

Caine’s enjoying a quiet life running his jazz club where both criminals and law enforcers can mingle. He’s got a lead piano player in Bobby Short and Rock fans will spot Rolling Stones member Charlie Watts on the drums. The way director Russell Mulcahy frames Caine and Young with Bobby in the background one can’t help but think of Rick’s Café expecting Mr. Short to break into a rendition of As Time Goes By.

Is Sean a femme fatale? Quite possibly. She’s got a secret to hide and knows Caine has had a past in the world of spies. She’s about to drop a major plot point on Caine when she informs him she’s married to an aging American Ambassador to England. So yes she does like older men as lovers and conveniently asks for Caine’s help in locating another ex-lover who has gone missing. Is she luring Michael in as if she’s playing a modern day Mary Astor opposite Bogie while hunting the Falcon?

Caine still has plenty of contacts in the field and hastily locates the missing man who has been laying low with some vital information that will slowly come to the surface as the plot develops. He won’t be laying low long as both he and Caine’s pal on the police force are murdered leaving Caine as the number one suspect with the local coppers. Caine believes he’s been used and left to take the fall and his gaze is resting on Miss Young.

Caine turns to an unbilled Bob Hoskins to assist him in tracking down some of the finer details concerning the dead man and with Bob’s blessing runs through a shooting course to see if he’s still got that magic touch with a handgun. Hoskins role is an elongated cameo and a fun one at that. He’s running a security company and in a wargames styled entrance shoots down all comers in a firefight. To see Bob Hoskins seething on camera is truly a force of nature. For his most fearsome role, be sure to check out The Long Good Friday. 

Caine’s retirement has been turned upside down when he’s drugged and questioned and has his jazz club destroyed in a bombing. He’ll catch up to Sean but that will only lead to more sex so we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out if she’s playing him like a “cheap violin.” When others who are close to him wind up dead he’ll go to see his old boss from “the agency” Ian Holm. It’s an angry reunion and all this leads to Caine turning vigilante to extract his pound of flesh from those who have forced him back into the game.

Caine was approaching 60 at the time this was filmed and released to cable by HBO. He was a long way from his Harry Palmer spy films but one has to wonder if his character’s name in Blue Ice, Harry Anders, was a tip of the hat to his earlier character. If indeed it was a nod to times past, Caine should have left it alone following this film but instead went on to a pair of ill fated mid 1990’s films where he did bring the 60’s spy back to life.

I’ve been thinking of beginning a Michael Caine “bloody” rating and if we we’re to do that then Blue Ice rates a four. Four out of what I can’t say but Caine utters what is surely his favorite word four times throughout the film which leads me to score this one a four on the scale of “bloody by Caine.” As a matter of fact I might run with this idea for a future topic.

According to the trivia section over a the IMDB, a favorite character player of mine, Denholm Elliott, was cast in the Ian Holm role but bowed out. I’ll jump to the conclusion that it may have been health related since we lost Mr. Elliott the same year as this film hit cable TV. It’s also pointed out that Sharon Stone dropped out after hitting the big time with Basic Instinct which led the producers to casting Sean Young in the role of Caine’s lover and possible femme fatale.

Cult film fans are sure to recognize director Mulcahy’s name. In 1986 he helmed the cult hit Highlander alongside other genre titles including Razorback, Tale of the Mummy and yes, even the disastrous Highlander 2 : The Quickening. He’s also worked as the director on a number of music videos by the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart.

By my count this is the 86th film I’ve now seen with Sir Michael and while far from his best it can also be said that it’s far better then some of his weakest efforts and by that I’m pointing the finger directly at the 1986 catastrophe Jaws : The Revenge. Looking for a copy? I picked this up recently when a local video store was shutting down and selling off it’s entire library. Yes sir, another one gone.