Swayze is an Icon but Icon is not Iconic
I was unaware that "Icon" was made as a TV mini-series having just watched it packaged as a movie, a rather long one at that, but for something which was made for TV on a much lower budget than a normal movie it's not bad. I doubt for one minute that "Icon" is as good as the Frederick Forsyth novel which it is adapted from because to be honest it is a little inconsistent. From the storyline, the action, the dialogue and the acting it goes from being surprisingly good to surprisingly bad. But for those who want to watch a thriller which features Patrick Swayze playing a spy in Russia it works adequately enough.
When terrorists steal a potentially lethal virus, former spy Jason Monk (Patrick Swayze - 11:14) is persuaded to come out of retirement and head to Russia to discover what is going on. Finding himself working with Russian policewoman Sonia Astrova (Annika Peterson), Jason soon discovers that the terrorist activities have something to do with the current Presidential race in Russia where an old adversary Igor Komarov (Patrick Bergin - Sleeping with the Enemy) is standing for election. But uncovering who is behind the activity is not the only reason for Jason returning to Russia as he hopes to meet the daughter he has been estranged from for almost all of her life.
Despite having never read Frederick Forsyth's novel I am sure that this adaptation takes great liberties with the complexity of his storyline. There is so much inconsistency when it comes to the storyline that if you expected anything really clever and mysterious you would be left wanting. But as a relatively simple thriller which sees a spy sent into Russia to discover who is behind terrorist activity and the theft of a deadly virus coupled with political corruption it works adequately. The moments which don't work can be ignored as you are entertained by the various action scenes and although the dialogue fluctuates from being quite classy to cliche it entertains. Of course if you have read Frederick Forsyth's novel and expected this to be an authentic adaptation you are sure to be left disappointed.
What is kind of annoying is that because "Icon" was made as a mini series and then packaged as a movie it is long, in fact 166 minutes long. As such it seems excessively padded out, scenes which try to build the storyline go on far longer than is necessary and it seems to drag its feet as it tries to set up the various characters. But whilst it feels as long as it is the production of it works helping you to forget that this is one long movie. Shots of Russia and those locations masquerading as Russia are quite breathtaking as are many of the action sequences.
That is where "Icon" works best as a thriller which is relatively easy to second guess when it comes to the story. The action may not get you to the edge of your seat but between chase scenes, shoot outs and a few beatings it all looks stunning. For some the action borders on the cliche, various scenes feel reminiscent of countless other action thrillers, but they work to make "Icon" at least adequately entertaining on a visual level.
It is during the various action sequences where Patrick Swayze looks the most comfortable demonstrating that he is as hot when it comes to throwing himself about as he was twenty years earlier when he starred in the likes of "Road House". Unfortunately the actual script often lets him down in the more dramatic moments and it feels like Swayze isn't sure how to play his spy, should he be smooth or rough around the edges. What most certainly does feel wrong is that for a man who should live in the shadows spends far too much time discussing things with agents in the open, especially when they are under suspicion.
"Icon" very much relies on Patrick Swayze to make it work and to be honest he probably gives the most consistent performance through out. But it has to be said that both Annika Peterson as Sonia Astrova and Steve Speirs as Viktor Akopov impressed managing to make their characters interesting. Unfortunately the rest of the cast which includes Patrick Bergin, Michael York, Ben Cross, Joss Ackland and Jeff Fahey fail to impress often feeling like they are just going through the motions. And when "Icon" relies on an unknown actor to lead a scene it ends up a case of some serious over acting and exaggerated facial expressions.
What this all boils down to is that "Icon" is not a great thriller and I am sure those who have read Frederick Forsyth's novel will be seriously disappointed as it doesn't display his cutting edge. But for those who just want to watch an action thriller starring Patrick Swayze will find it reasonably good especially considering that whilst limited by a TV budget the action sequences are quite stunning if a little cliche.