The Ice Road
The Ice Road (2021) movie review
The Ice Road is a new Netflix original from writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh, one of the screenplay writers for 1998s Armageddon. The films Liam Neeson as an ice road truck driver who is called to action to assist in the rescue of miners trapped in a mine in Northern Canada. The action/thriller was released this past weekend, on Netflix of course, to a poor reception from critics and audiences. Of course opening against F9, I’m surprised anyone watched it at all! No offense Mr. Neeson…
I had fairly average hopes for Ice Road. It’s not Liam Neeson’s fault, but most of his action films seem very sub-par now. That said, I thought this could pull off a surprise like Deepwater Horizon (2016) with a tight, driven story. Those hopes were obliterated by the action-packed trailer with chases and goons on snowmobiles and epic Liam Neeson action! In a movie about a guy trying to get a piece of a drill to a mine to save people trapped inside… Huh? So if you are considering The Ice Road because its a quick and easy watch, maybe hit something over your head and kill a few brain cells that way instead. Save yourself a few hours…
Admittedly, The Ice Road gets off to a solid start. We get a decent setup, as well as fairly typical but effective introductions for the important characters in the film. The dynamic between Liam Neeson and his brother, played by Marcus Thomas, was also a fairly interesting draw, as his brother has a speech impediment brought on by PTSD from his time serving in the military. We also meet Tantoo, a young and troubled truck driver who is introduced being bailed out of prison by Laurence Fishburne. And then there’s Benjamin Walker, who plays some corporate guy tagging along with the professional truck drivers, for… reasons?
Anyway, the journey begins with different motivations for the three truck drivers as we race across the dangerous ice road to plow into our thriller! Going into the second act, some issues begin to reveal themselves. First, let me say that the trailer spoils this movie. So if you haven’t seen the trailer, I guess I’m going to spoil a few painfully obvious things. But hey, this film isn’t worth seeing anyway, so yeah. The first major incident features some interesting moments of tension. I did enjoy the problem solving element of this story though! Time and time again we see the heroes faced with obstacles and being forced to use creative solutions to get through them. Early on, this was really great!
That said, those smart calls go from rigging the three trucks together or zig-zagging across the ice or whatever to ‘punch, push, kick, drive fast!’ Because for some reason, when they finished the screenplay for this 90 minute movie, they said, “It’s good. But what if we added a plot twist and had evil goons and people trying to kill everyone?” And somebody else said yes. Ice Road very quickly goes from a compelling watch to one of the stupidest movies of the year. Not just because of the story or the practically telegraphed beats that are supposed to be a surprise, but the execution of the film is so awful that I laughed.
Here’s an example: So their on the ice road right? And they are stopped because reasons. And there’s dynamite with a lit fuse racing across the ice with a very generous amount of time. Then Liam Neeson leaps down, grabs the dynamite, and throws it maybe a few yards. The dynamite then explodes on the previously thin ice and I guess that’s the end of that. No cracks in the ice or damage to the characters who were really close to is. Just a scorch mark that Neeson could literally jump to from where he threw it. THEN, the bad guy who is like two miles a way looks behind him and sees what I can only assume is a totally unrelated NUCLEAR EXPLOSION that blasts half a mile high! So. Silly. And this kinda stuff keeps happening. Again. And again. And again.
Remember those miners? Yeah they aren’t as important as old man Liam Neeson getting his fist fight in! Cause it its one thing this rescue movie needed, it’s a drawn out fist fight. The film does try to come back from this a little by focusing more on the relationship between Neeson and his brother. For one goshdarn scene before that goes nowhere and we get back to the “plot.” And you know what? While it’s tough to convey just how silly this movie is, at least F9 (2021) has had a learning curve for their characters. Do I believe Ludacris can fight off trained guards with expert skill? No not really. But at least we’ve had a few movies to get to know him and see those characters transition. I guess? Do I believe a random truck driver can do it after spending 45 minutes with the guy? Sorry, no.
The Ice Road did have potential, but the rapid squandering of said potential makes it even worse if you ask me. I don’t see what was wrong with Ice Road Truckers (2007-2017): The Movie. You’ve got a solid cast, interesting characters, a tense and compelling premise, and plenty of thrilling danger! Why do we need evil corporation and explosions and guns and fighting? Because stupid, that’s why. 3/10. Don’t bother.
So The Ice Road? Did you watch it? What did you think? And what is your favorite Liam Neeson in the snow movie? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know what we should talk about next!
-review by Ryan Prince