The Ice Road Review

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: When a remote diamond mine in Manitoba collapses, a rebellious ice road trucker leads a rescue crew despite thawing waters.

REVIEW: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – Liam Neeson is our generation’s Charles Bronson. Neeson seems content churning out a series of modestly budgeted, efficient B-movies. We've come to expect a Neeson action flick every six months or so. While they're not art, usually they're fairly entertaining despite the occasional dud (I'd rank last year's Honest Thief as his worst-ever star vehicle). Recently, The Marksman was a surprising improvement over some of his more uninspired vehicles. Netflix's The Ice Road is similarly a cut above the rest – even if it suffers from some issues of its own.

Once again, Liam Neeson is playing a grumpy, taciturn loner- I'd love to see him play a happy-go-lucky action hero one of these days. He's a gruff, tough truck driver who keeps losing jobs because he beats up the truckers who make fun of his aphasia-afflicted brother (Marcus Thomas). Wanting to get enough money to buy his own rig, he and his brother take a dangerous job up north to drive to a collapsed diamond mine over melting ice. That's a cool premise, as ice road trucking is real, and this job is cinematic. A solid ice-road trucking movie could have given The Wages of Fear and Sorcerer a run for their money, but it feels like writer-producer Jonathan Hensleigh (The Punisher) doesn't always have faith in his premise.

The biggest problem here is that a villain gets worked into the plot about a third of the way in, giving Neeson the chance to do some shooting and fist-fights, with the main bad guy amongst the rogues' gallery assembled painfully easy to figure out. A bad guy is unnecessary, as the danger of melting ice and truck calamities could have made this an excellent disaster movie. At times, the actual trucking becomes the B-plot rather than the A-plot.

Even still, it's a decent Neeson flick as Hensleigh does a good job conveying the danger of the job, as well as the ticking clock aspect as the miners run out of air. On their end, they want to start killing the weak to conserve air, with Holt McCallany and Martin Sensmeier as two of the more heroic guys in the crew who won't let that happen. Neeson is dependable as usual in the lead. Giving him a brother humanizes him gives him a chance to emote a little more than usual (I'll give Neeson some credit – Bronson would have never cried onscreen- Liam has no problem being vulnerable). Laurence Fishburne has a disappointingly brief role as the truck company boss who assembles the crew. I expected him to be a lead – but he's not. I did like Amber Midthunder (who's starring in the next Predator movie), who shows some spunk as a first-nations driver who proves to be the only one next to Neeson with some real grit.

While a B-movie, as are most Neeson flicks these days, I still had a decent enough time with The Ice Road, even if I'm nostalgic for an era where Neeson was considered as legit an actor as someone like Daniel Day-Lewis. I'd love to see him escape the action genre a little more, but as always, he's a likable, sturdy lead even if he's not doing anything you haven't seen him do dozens of times before.

The Ice Road



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.