AKA: Frederick Forsyth’s Icon
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
Patrick Swayze, Annika Peterson, Michael York, Ben Cross, Patrick Bergin, Jeff Fahey, Joss Ackland, Barry Morse
Music by Mark Kilian and Daniel Light
Based on the novel by Frederick Forsyth
Patrick Swayze has been in the news a bit lately, and while I do not consider my self a fan, I wish him all the best.
A quick viewing of the cover from this DVD conjures up two thoughts. The first concerns Patrick Swayze. I have never seen Ghost or Dirty Dancing and my first instinct is that I do not want to watch a spy mini-series that features him in it. But that would be a mistake, because Swayze is quite good as the lead, and has aged enough that the pretty-boy image from the 1980’s is never really an issue. Second, is that this mini-series is based on a book by Frederick Forsythe. That should be enough to convince most spy fans that Icon is worth a look. After all, many of Forsythe’s stories have been converted into memorable films, such as: The Day Of The Jackal, The Odessa File and The Fourth Protocol. With that in mind I ventured into this 2 part Hallmark mini-series.
The film opens in an un-named city in the Soviet Union. The year is 1985 and Sergei Akopov is trying to defect to the United States. Things have gone wrong and he is running through the cobbled streets of the city with a squad of Russian soldiers on his tail. A team of Americans are waiting with a car for him, but as Akropov enters the city square, surrounded by soldiers, the Americans want to abandon him, and abort the mission. Another American agent, Jason Monk (Patrick Swayze) is also on the streets. He clobbers one of slower Russian soldiers and takes his gun and uniform.
The soldiers have caught Akopov and have thrown him to the ground. Each of them is giving him a good ‘kicking’ when a car pulls up beside. Colonel Igor Kamorov (Patrick Begin) alights the vehicle and begins to interrogate Akopov. Interrupting , Kamorov’s rough-housing, Monk walks into the middle of the fray and announces that he has orders to collect the prisoner. Kamorov isn’t happy but acquiesces. It appears that Monk’s deception has worked.
But not to be. The American agents with the car panic. They drive into the middle of the city square with their guns a-blazin’ in an unnecessary attempt to rescue Monk. A fire fight breaks out and Kamorov kills Akopov. Monk is bundles off to safety, but is angered by his fellow agents incompetence, and equally upset at the senseless waste of life – namely Akopov’s. Consequentially, Monk retires.
It’s now twenty years later, and Russia is in the midst of an election campaign. The two Presidential hopefuls are General Nikolai Nikolaev (Joss Ackland), and Igor Komarov, who has now retired from the KGB. As the campaign builds momentum, an incident changes the course of the election. A blue utility van is parked outside a Komarov Industries building. Inside the van, there is a vast quantity of explosive. Sitting in a car, a distance away, a guy pulls out his cell phone and punches in a number. The van explodes, killing seven people and injuring forty others. Utilising the distraction that a bomb explosion cause, the guy gets out of his car and calmly walks to the Komarov Industries building and breaks in. He knows exactly where he is going and what he is after. The particular building houses many deadly biological weapons, many of them left over from the Cold War. The guy collects a phial of a biological agent known as Restin 81 and leaves. Restin 81 is a ebola variant that kills about ninety-five percent of people who come in contact with the virus. It is particularly nasty stuff.
Sir Nigel Irving (Michael York) is British Intelligence’s top man in Moscow. He finds out about the theft of the bio-agent, and consults with the CIA about launching a mission to retrieve the weapon. All of this is un-official of course, because they have no right to interfere with Russia’s Police and Intelligence operations. The man chosen to ‘go in’, is Jason Monk. Although he has long since retired, he knows Russia well, is off the books – so Sir Nigel can deny it all if something happens, and Monk is/was a specialist in bio-weapons of the era. Monk now lives the quiet life in Andalusia in Spain. Sir Nigel approaches him with a proposition and $500,000. Monk reluctantly agrees.
As this is a two-part mini-series running just under 170 minutes, their are numerous subplots and a multitude of characters to follow throughout the story – all I have outlined here is a very simple overview. Icon tries to deceive you into thinking that it is a new kind of spy story – that is high-tech and up to the minute. But in reality, despite any glossy veneer, it is an old fashioned spy drama (and that’s good thing!)
Just by using Monk, an ‘old school’ operative who has been out of the game for twenty years to track down the old Soviet era weapon, tells you that Icon’s heart lies in the past. This is re-enforced by the casting of Michael York as Monk’s controller.
As I said at the top, when I picked up a copy of this DVD, I had my reservations about it, but Icon is actually pretty good.