*. Maybe I was just Liam Neesoned out. He’s a fine actor, but I think I may be getting as tired of seeing him in these action roles as he appears to be doing them. Or maybe it was only a novel twist on some old tropes — Wages of Fear North, or a snowy Road Warrior — and not quite novel enough. But I couldn’t get into The Ice Road.
*. There’s an accident, or “accident,” at a mine in northern Manitoba that requires a new wellhead be transported via ice road within the next thirty or so hours in order to save some trapped miners. Three truckers accept the mission: Mike McCann (and his brain-damaged brother, who is the group mechanic); feisty Native American trucker Tantoo (Amber Midthunder) whose own brother is one of the trapped miners; and Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne).
*. In the credits Fishburne gets an “and.” That means he’s a big name but it’s not a leading role. At which point you might say to yourself, “I don’t think Larry is going to be long for this picture.” I won’t confirm or deny.
*. I don’t think I have to explain the plot either. There is a run across ice that might break open at any time. There is an attempt to cross a bridge that might collapse at any time. There’s even an avalanche thrown in for good measure. And of course there’s the evil mining company that basically caused the explosion in the first place and is now eager to cover things up. Shit happens and then Liam gets his game face on, saying “It’s not about the money now. It’s personal.” Yeah!
*. Written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, who was a big deal for action screenplays back in the day (Die Hard with a Vengeance, Jumanji, and Armageddon are among his credits). But he’d been mostly silent for a decade. I hope he wasn’t just working on this.
*. I wonder how much Kenworth paid for the product placement here. Is that the only rig fit to handle an ice road?
*. Some of this could have been interesting. There were moments when the truckers were presented with what seemed like insoluble problems and they had to improvise ways to keep going. That mechanical spirit of git-r-done might have been played up more, but in the end I don’t think a lot of the technical stuff made sense. Is it that easy to winch a heavy load back into an upright position? Seems doubtful to me.
*. While the leads are all capable, I just couldn’t buy any of them as truckers. Neeson just struck me as miscast, and Midthunder too pretty. But I guess in her case they couldn’t bring back Large Marge.
*. At the end of the day there’s really not enough here that’s new. I liked seeing the big rigs doing an ice dance routine, but that’s the minimum of what I expected. The rest of the action sequences aren’t very impressive and the plot is hokey all the way down to the the weasely suit getting punched out, and I thought Peter Weller pulled that off better at the end of Leviathan. Meanwhile, Liam was already heading off on his next mission. Git-r-done!