A ‘big-rig’ ice road driver named Mike (Liam Neeson) and his mechanic brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), who suffers from PTSD and is intellectually challenged, work from job to job across Canada, hoping to someday get a rig of their own. When a remote diamond mine collapses, they join a team of other misfits including Varnay (Benjamin Walker), Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne), and Tantoon (Amber Midthunder), the latter of whom has a brother trappped in the mine, on an impossible rescue mission. The assignment will see them trek across a treacherous frozen ocean – but betrayal lies not just beneath the ice…
‘The Ice Road’ is all very dramatic with high stakes, family values and teamwork – all those typical, fun components that make up your average action movie. You’ve got a bunch of people coming together, but are all strangers to one another, and aside from working against the clock in unfamiliar territory, there’s also a traitor among them. Essentially, if you watch the trailer for Liam Neeson’s latest, you know exactly what you’re getting. Just don’t expect any more or any less than that.
Aside from the likes of Neeson and Fishburne, the ensemble also includes Matt McCoy as General Manager Sickle, and ‘Mindhunter’ star Holt McCallany as the leader of the miners, Lampard. The feature cuts well between the fraught drama of the miners trapped in the cave, and the truckers racing for their lives on the ice. While the CGI is often comically bad, what proves far more effective and anxiety-inducing are the shots of the unsteady ice and creaking, cracking sounds that accompany them.
‘The Ice Road’ is a mish-mash of action, thriller, heist, disaster movie and melodrama. There are nice little moments dotted in of the brothers working together and problem solving. However, one isn’t quite sure how much to believe in the chemistry of their relationship, plus Matt Thomas’ performance as Gurty is a little all over the place. The final fight scene is also rather silly, though at least it makes sense that these guys with no action training would come to fisticuffs so awkwardly. Well-worn clichés dominate the film, and it isn’t going to win awards anytime soon. Still, the latest Neeson action venture is a bit of fun, and if you’re looking for a feature to kick off movie night, this could just break the ice.
‘The Ice Road’ is streaming on Amazon Prime in Ireland and the UK, and on Netflix in the US.