REVIEW: THE ICE ROAD (2021) – ManlyMovie


Run Time: 110 mins
Rated: PG-13
What To Expect: Decent action set pieces are betrayed by woke-ism and an overwrought corruption plot

You used to be able to set your watch to a Liam Neeson film.  Whatever it was, it was probably going to be good.  Nowadays, whatever Neeson is in, a feeling of time about to be wasted accompanies the opening credits – there is an argument that can be made that the man is starting to wear himself thin.  Consider that he has appeared in 18 movies over the past five years, chances are you won’t remember much of them.  I don’t really regret watching The Ice Road, but am certain I never will watch it again.

Neeson plays Mike McCann, a trucker recently fired after socking a co-worker in the mouth for making fun of his mentally challenged veteran brother Gurty (Thomas Marcus).  When an accident happens at an industrial mine in the far north (with the excellent Holt McCallany buried underground with his co-workers), Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) offers Neeson much needed cash to drive urgently needed tools to the north to save the men; the money is good, but the catch is they must drive over thinning ice to cut time.

The trailer promised a big truck ’em up actioner, maybe like an old 1970’s Convoy yarn on steroids.  And to be fair there is some of that in here; there is a decent amount of kinetic truckery; lethal ice plates are crossed, hokey and weak bridges are confronted and fist fights occur here and there.  All of it looks so very pretty, the great northern outdoors present captivating cinematography and for a while, the always terrific Laurance Fishburne is in the film.  The cameras don’t shake and there appears to be a human editor working on the film too.

Alas, by the halfway mark the film labors under a narrative knot of corporate intrigue and corruption.  A conspiracy that no-one will care about, that pretty much settles the film into irretrievable mediocrity.  From there on, it’s a patch work of action set pieces that are passable, but drag, towards 110 minutes – 20 too long.

The film also flashes its woke card.  Amber Midthunder, who’ll be the lead in feminist movie Predator 5, is one of the central cast members.  Despite looking like a 12 year old school girl she is placed in the movie as a seasoned, hardened truck driver ace, scowling and unhappy of course, because y’know – to smile is to show weakness, you gotta scowl real hard and show the patriarchy that you mean business.  To say its unconvincing would be generous.  The character also refers to her dislike of white people numerous times, written in such a way as to come across as ‘rebellious’, but only striking the viewer as someone who should otherwise be out protesting in Portland.

To shoe-horn such material into this, a movie about… trucking action, is remarkably tone deaf. Considering the obvious target audience of 18-45 year old western blue collar men browsing Amazon Prime with a beer in hand.  I mean, would you forcibly insert this kind of thing into the series Ice Road Truckers?