Based on the DVD artwork, you'd think Green Ice was a heist movie, but it's more of a tepid thriller with an element of romance, complete with two leads lacking in chemistry and some mighty impressive convolutions on the part of the film's screenplay. Although there is a high-tech vault packed with emeralds in the movie, the daring heist is as lethargic as the rest of the film, which plods along without much sense of direction for most of its overlong two-hour running time.
Much like its protagonist, Green Ice doesn't seem to have any idea what kind of story it wants to tell. The heist story is arguably the least important, a minor diversion in the middle of less interesting threads. Archer and O'Neal have almost no chemistry together; in fact, Joe seems unusually angry at Holbrook for giving him a hotel suite, getting him involved in the diamond trade, signing him up to help punch some holes in Colombia's corrupt military, and sleeping with him. Sure, his life is being threatened from time to time, be it men with guns or meat-eating pigs, but he also never does much to try and get away from it all, raising his objections to everything and then going through with the plans anyway. In this way, he's a fitting hero for Sharif's villain, who first meets Joe while Joe is making out with his would-be fiancee Holbrook in a pool, then later shows him his fancy emerald vault and explains all the security systems, presumably so Joe knows how to rob it properly. Time and time again, Argenti's actions provide the tools for Joe to succeed, which him into a remarkably unthreatening villain. At least Sharif plays along, even committing to the "You? The only one I could trust?" scene in which he spots someone betraying him.
It would be easier to swallow Green Ice's narrative schizophrenia if the direction or pacing were a bit better, but neither is very exciting. Argenti's vault is basically a big closet with one lock on it, a voice-activated switch, and the only way out of the building is through the roof. Joe's eventual strategy for breaking into the building isn't particularly clever -- drop on it with balloons and then rappel off the side -- and there isn't much tension in getting the thing open, despite director Ernest Day's attempts to milk the moment. The ride down the side of the building is the closest the film gets to a stunt, which lasts all of a minute. Later, a brief siege on a beachfront house is faintly exciting, but by that point it's hardly relevant, as the film's already subjected the viewer to around 100 minutes of mediocrity. Only a boat search has a fun money shot -- setting up yet another opportunity for the characters to ignore the obvious.
As Green Ice draws to a close, the film's hook remains inconclusive. Was Joe the surrogate for the audience, drawn unexpectedly into a thrilling adventure? Was the romance the heart of the story, one of a rich rebellious woman finding something in a scruffy everyman? Or, perhaps, it was just an action movie, intended to grab the viewer with thrills and excitement? The fact that the finished film fails to answer this question speaks to its aimlessness -- the real hook seems to have been, "Emeralds look different than diamonds. Can we do anything with that?"
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