“Icarus” is the sixth film that Dolph Lundgren has directed and also starred in since he left the golden hills of Hollywood for indie moviemaking. I’ve dabbled in some of his past directorial efforts, like “The Defender” and “Command Performance”, but have never actually, well, finished them, making “Icarus” his first movie as director that I’ve actually sat all the way through. “Icarus” certainly remains faithful to Lundgren’s Hollywood action movie roots, albeit on a much smaller scale. There’s no getting around it: Lundgren is far removed from his “Rocky 4” and “Masters of the Universe” days. Then again, considering the craptacular nature of those movies, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Extended gunfire, explosions, and an impressive bodycount are the order of the day in “Icarus”, though with full command of his movies, Lundgren is now able to inject some semblance of substance into his character’s killing ways. This instantly sets him apart from fellow former A-lister Steven Seagal, whose movies are, let’s be honest, lifeless products that exist purely to pay Seagal’s grocery bills. And as far as I can tell, Lundgren still does most of his own stunts. In these respects, Lundgren has something in common with Jean-Claude Van Damme, with whom Lundgren co-stars in the recent “Universal Soldier: Regeneration”, the two men’s brief scenes together being the film’s highlight.
In “Icarus”, brooding salesman Edward Genn (Dolph Lundgren) just can’t catch a break – whenever he thinks he’s out, they keep pulling him back in. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that ol Genn is also codenamed Icarus, and lives a double life as an aging hired killer for the Russian mob. (Lundgren the actor has already hit the big 5-0, though he remains in remarkable shape.) A former KGB officer, Icarus dares to fly high – he used to be married to the beautiful Joey (Stefanie von Pfetten), has one of those adorable movie kids, but his “work” has torn him from his family. Now a single man, he shacks up with a trophy girlfriend while killing lots and lots of people for the Russian mob, and spends his time wondering when his luck is going to run out.
Without a doubt, “Icarus” is made up of pure B-action movie goodness. While it certainly leaves enough room for character pathos, the film doesn’t skimp on the action. Lundgren’s character cuts quite a swath through the underworld, and the film features a great 30-minute stretch of nothing but straight action as Genn find himself set up and has to scramble to save his family, all the while being chased by a seemingly endless army of Russians with machineguns. It’s all very ‘90s, and real-world logic rarely rears its ugly head. Not that you’ll notice, since the film is constantly cranking out dead bodies like it’ll win a prize if it piles up the bad guys high enough.
Stefanie von Pfetten capably plays the love interest, though her transformation from terrified ex-wife to Genn’s capable, gun-packing partner is a bit much. Meanwhile, “Supernatural’s” Samantha Ferris leaves the demon killing behind to play Genn’s former ally, who is now a legit businesswoman, albeit one that still has underworld contacts across the United States and travels with a small cadre of armed goons. The film doesn’t use Kerr nearly enough, but then again, that could just be a “Supernatural” fan talking. Genre vet Bo Svenson (star of the original “Walking Tall” movies) plays another old associate of Genn’s, a Russian mobster with a heart of gold. Just kidding. Svenson’s Vadim is a pretty nasty character, and really should have been given more screentime to properly set up the film’s climactic action set piece. A very slick David Lewis shows up intermittently as the shadowy Mr. Graham, a man who may hold Genn’s future in his hands.
Fans of Dolph Lundgren will certainly get the most out of “Icarus”, though anyone who appreciates a good old fashioned action movie that apes the glory days of the ‘90s will also find a lot to sink their teeth into. The bottom line is that “Icarus” makes an effort, but doesn’t require that you care why Genn’s codename is Icarus. Anyone who has a passing interest in solid action movies should give the film a shot, and hopefully Lundgren’s upcoming return to bigtime Hollywood moviemaking in Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” will give him the platform he needs to expand onto a bigger canvas. If he can pull off a movie like “Icarus” on its respectable budget, I’d sure love to see what he can do with more resources at his disposal.
Dolph Lundgren (director) / Raul Inglis (screenplay)
CAST: Dolph Lundgren … Edward Genn / Icarus
Stefanie von Pfetten … Joey
Samantha Ferris … Kerr
David Lewis … Mr. Graham
Bo Svenson … Vadim
Katelyn Mager … Taylor
Lindsay Maxwell … April
Monique Ganderton … Kim