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Caine stars as Harry Palmer clone in this entertaining thriller
on November 24, 2006
In the late 1960s Michael Caine portrayed the British spy Harry Palmer in a series of adaptations of Len Deightons spy novels. Palmer was seen as the "anti-Bond" in an era in which the James Bond 007 phenomenon was taking the world by storm.
The HBO movie `Blue Ice,' though not based on a Deighton novel or featuring Palmer as it's central character, feels more like a Harry Palmer movie than the later Deighton-inspired Palmer movies such as `Bullet to Beijing.' For not only does it star Caine as a cynical, retired British spy, but the characters name is even Harry, Harry Anders that is.
Anders is a former spy turned jazz club owner who embarks on an affair with the wife of the American ambassador (played by the incredibly sexy Sean Young). She asks him for a favor in tracking down an American friend of hers using his contacts in the police force and former colleagues in the British secret service. All seems to be going well and Harry locates his quarry without too much difficulty.
However when the man is found slain in his apartment and Anders is arrested for his murder Harry has to unravel a complex web of intrigue while dodging both the CIA and his former mentor in the secret service. Further complicating matters is the fact that the American Embassy not only denies any knowledge of Anders, but also claims that the Ambassadors wife has been out of the country.
The plot all revolves around illegal weapons smuggling, but the trip along to the exciting climax on the London docks is pure Harry Palmer territory set against a jazzy background. Anders is certainly no wimp and his chasing down of a thief from his club bears that out, he even offers the man the option of breaking his leg or an arm.
There is some nudity by Sean Young, though nothing full-frontal. Not surprisingly given this, Sharon Stone was originally chosen for the role but backed out when `Basic Instinct' became a smash success.
With appearances by such well-known British actors as Ian Holm (as former British spymaster Sir Hector), Alun Armstrong as Harry's Scotland Yard contact Osgood and Bob Hoskins as former secret agent turned security consultant Sam, the movie is an entertaining and at times exciting spy caper. It was of course an HBO-TV movie in the United States, but was good enough to warrant a theatrical release in the United Kingdom.
The movie also features music by `Lethal Weapon' and `License to Kill' composer Michael Kamen and his style of music is clearly evident and handling the directing duties is Russell Mulcahy of "Highlander' fame.
As has been noted Amazon erroneously lists the running time as 105 minutes, however the movie runs 96 minutes. If there were nine minutes excised from the movie I did not notice anything missing. The DVD is also missing any special features, but at such low price one cannot complain. That low price also makes it easy to recommend.