The Ice Road

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Even a pandemic couldn’t stop Liam Neeson. After the Great Lockdown, the unemployment rate in the U.S. skyrocketed in 2020 from 3.5% — the lowest in nearly 70 years — to an all-time high of 14.8%. Yet the sexagenarian never stopped working. In the past year, he starred in the lighthearted drama Made in Italy and fronted the actioners Honest Thief and The Marksman. There’s a reason for that. He’s a dependable actor that exudes genuine sincerity. He also enjoys doing the kinds of features that the public loves. Action movies are always in demand.

His latest offering is The Ice Road. In it, he plays a truck driver named Mike McCann. He’s operating one of three vehicles and part of a team that includes four other people. Laurence Fishburne, Benjamin Walker, Amber Midthunder, and Marcus Thomas round out the squad. This diverse crew could hold differing ideological views. Yet the screenplay would prefer to focus on the superficial physical characteristics that differentiate them instead. They’re on a critical mission to deliver wellheads so they can save a group of workers trapped in a mine that has collapsed. The Ice Road refers to the path they take over an ocean that has frozen to the point that they can drive on it. This is understandably quite dangerous because trucks are heavy (duh) and the ice could break.

The plot is so formulaic, it’s depressing. There’s an art of how and when to kill a character. Writer (and director) Jonathan Hensleigh (Die Hard with a Vengeance, Armageddon) is responsible. We’re introduced to individuals to embrace only to have them randomly disposed of later. This indifference is supremely off-putting. I get that the script wants to emphasize the life-threatening qualities of the job, but the whole production is inherently silly. The narrative casually kills beloved personalities in a cheap attempt to create emotion. This happens a couple of times here and both eliminations feel like a shortcut. It doesn’t produce the solemnity desired.

The movie offers a lot of excitement in battling the natural elements though. That would have been enough to entertain on a simple level. However, the adventure also involves a bewildering conspiracy subplot concerning evil businessmen who want to stop the drivers from reaching their goals. That’s a crock of convoluted nonsense. Whenever the drama focuses on that aspect, it lost me. The dialogue is trying to make this story seem more complex than it needs to be. The chronicle should just be about truckers vs. nature but it’s truckers vs. nature vs. a corrupt mining corporation. Yeah, that’s not interesting or coherent. Keep it simple, stupid.


4 Responses to “The Ice Road”

  1. It’s interesting that the filmmakers didn’t stick with the truckers vs nature idea. by adding the corrupt businessmen, they brought down the movies entertainment value. oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you seen the Spanish-American (I think?) produced Below Zero (Bajocero), available I think as well through Netflix? It involves heavily armed trucks, brutal cold conditions and a far better, more morally-complex plot. It’s subtitled but I really really dug it and I feel like I haven’t seen a single review for it on the blogosphere. I’d recommend it if you’ve got a spare 1.5 hours.

    Liked by 1 person

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