Writers Arne Olsen and John Alan Schwartz, showing they know their way around good dialogue, have spun a variation on stylized spy tales by incorporating a cab-driving unpublished novelist as their hero as they slyly observe the traditional ingredients. “Black Ice,” an attention-getting device, owes much to director Neill Fearnley and to actor Michael Nouri; otherwise, it’s merely a slick trick.
Vidpic pops open with a politico meeting his enigmatic mistress Vanessa (Joanna Pacula) in Detroit for a romp and to tell her they’re through. The politician dies trying to assault her and, to make a getaway, she grabs the cab of Ben (anuncustomarily grubby Nouri), who has a habit of watching fares in his rearview mirror.
Vanessa is running from the mysterious Quinn (Michael Ironside), who originally set her up with the solon (or did he?) and now insists she must die too. Vanessa hires Ben to drive her to Seattle, and more bodies tumble as they make their way semi-westward.
The virile Nouri establishes the character right off the bat and acts him out with authority. Pacula ably wends her way through the role of the mysterious femme who may or may not be good (people die in her presence, but it’s invariably self-defense on her part), and Ironside suitably plays the humorless pursuer with grim assertiveness.
Lesser characters are interped less skillfully, particularly by co-writer Olsen as a congressman and by Rick Skene as Vanessa’s Minneapolis contact. Mickey Jones plays Ben’s dispatcher in OK fashion, and Victor Cowie is fine as a car salesman.
David Geddes’s lensing displays assured composition, and Alan Lee’s editing is pro. Deanna Rohde’s design is resourceful, imaginative and darkly humorous, and Canada’s Manitoba rich locations are visually on target.
Olsen’s and Schwartz’s inside joke leads on and on as they divertingly shag the dog, and it’s all as meaningful as the telefilm’s title.