Directed by: Neill Fearnley
Starring: Michael Nouri, Joanna Pacula, and Michael Ironside
Ben Shorr (Nouri) is a destitute cab driver with plenty of debts. He’s an aspiring author eking out a living. One night, Vanessa (Pacula) gets in his cab. Due to some political intrigue, she’s on the run from the murderous Quinn (Ironside). She tells Ben to drive her from Detroit to Seattle using “only the back roads” and she’ll give him thousands of dollars for his effort. Naturally, the worldly Belgian woman and the low-class shmoe forge an uneasy relationship, while dodging Quinn and getting into a few scrapes. Will they make it?
Equal parts 90’s Skinemax “erotic thriller” and supposed “neo-noir”, seemingly very influenced by the show Taxicab Confessions, Black Ice is serviceable, but nothing more. Its look screams “CANADA!” even though the plot takes great pains to prove otherwise. (It was, indeed, shot in Canada).
Michael Nouri, sporting some utterly ridiculous long hair, is not particularly likable as the motormouthed Ben. That’s an impediment to the movie. However, he does put in an energetic performance, much more so than he did in Overkill (1996). We also felt Michael Ontkean could have played this role. Interestingly, there’s a shot early on in the film of Nouri at a typewriter, with a rotary dial phone and a cigarette. Those three things alone would not be seen in a film today, much less all together. Strictly for preservation reasons alone, we felt that was the best shot of the movie.
Michael Ironside does what he does best - be sinister. He plays almost the exact same role here as he does in Watchers. Joanna Pacula provides the eye candy, and we can certainly sympathize with her having to put up with Ben, who frankly can get kind of annoying.
Aside from the prerequisite barfight, there isn’t a lot of action. Not that there’s necessarily supposed to be in a movie like this - but it certainly would have picked things up more. Where some scenes are needlessly talky, they could have put in an action scene of some kind. Sadly, they did not choose that route.
While it’s nice to see the three leads doing their thing, Black Ice is just a bit too bland to warrant a screaming recommendation.
NOTE: The VHS was released in both a rated and unrated version.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty