AGENT ON ICE lives up to its title almost immediately as it opens in Hungary (translation: upstate New York) as man named Jacobi (Peter Wing) is skidded off the road (with a 2x4 win nails in it covered in snow) and killed by a man with an axe in the snow covered hills. Seems our opening victim is a former undercover CIA agent and his killer is Frank Matera (Louis Pastore, who also co-produced and co-wrote). Naturally, this sends the agency into a tizzy since mafia man Matera was supposed to have been killed by a team consisting of Jacobi, Salzman (Jaroslav Stremien), Melby (Richard Maynard) and station chief John Pope (Tom Ormeny). Bossman Kirkpatrick (Clifford David) and his underling Cory (Thomas Kopache) are disturbed by the event, but obviously not disturbed enough to notify and warn Pope, who is now a drunk and working as an insurance adjuster with a pending divorce. Damn, talk about civilian life transition shock. One minute you’re fighting for your country, the next you are thumping guys who are trying to file phony claims.
began a prolific photography career by snapping the heretofore unseen sights of the Middle East. Unfortunately, his eye for the exotic doesn’t extend to this film. Truthfully, there are some good shots here (the capturing of NYC in the winter is great) but everything is so humdrum at times. It doesn’t help the film that our action hero John Pope is a normal looking guy who looks like George Stover’s handsome brother and the angriest we see him is when confronting a guy trying to commit insurance fraud. Seriously, Pope doesn’t even get angry when he is shot multiple times. The staging is also so bizarre at times. For example, there is a bit where Melby’s wife calls the CIA to find out where her missing husband is. The minute she gets off the phone, she turns on the TV to see a live news report about NYC’s rivers and – shock of shocks – the reporter stumbles upon Melby’s dead body. L…O…L! Later Pope shows up at the wife’s house and, expert spy that he is draws a gun on her kid when the boy makes the mistake of wandering in the room and dropping a toy. This is done for dramatic effect, but comes off so silly especially with the synth score by Ian Carpenter blasting on the soundtrack.
Pope: “You got any gloves”
Owner: “No, we’re out of gloves. You want condoms? How big are you? Me? I’m two inches…from the ground. I’ll give you a good deal on a gross. What’s that for a stud like you, a month’s worth? C’mon.”
Pope: “I gave it up for Lent.”
Owner: “Hey, listen, you hear the one about the penguins and the nuns?”
Obviously this movie isn’t going to replace the Bond films and is never going to be better than even the worst Bond film. Well, it is better than THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999). But if you are looking for some oddball espionage with some vintage ‘80s NYC location shooting, you can’t go wrong with AGENT ON ICE. Of course, you can’t go right either.
Believe it or not, this got into theaters in May 1986: