The Ice Road (2021) isn’t quite chilling enough.

The Ice Road Review

It’s something of a running joke in the Craggus household that there’s a body of Liam Neeson’s work which is based on the simple premise that Liam Neeson’s character just happens to have the specific set of skills/ experience for the extremely specific and somewhat contrived situation he finds himself in. In many ways, THE ICE ROAD qualifies as the latest entry in that hallowed oeuvre.

When an explosion at Manitoba mine traps 26 miners, Mike McCann (Liam Neeson) hears about a dangerous mission to get essential drilling equipment – too heavy to fly and needed too urgently to go by sea) – to the site of the disaster. He joins up with an expedition led by Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) along with a third truck driver, Tantoo (Amber Midthunder) and Varnay (Benjamin Walker), a supervisor from the insurance actuaries underwriting the mining firm. With time running out, the convoy has no choice but to set out to cross the frozen lakes long after the safe season has ended.

I’m aware of but have never actually watched an episode of the series ICE ROAD TRUCKERS although I have to admit I’m tempted to give it a whirl after this ridiculous but entertaining action-adventure romp. Not much more than CONVOY on ice!, Neeson is solid if unspectacular in the lead but Mike McCann is no Rubber Duck. There’s a preponderance of familial side plots that don’t really gel and far too many incidents which feel too much like the writer making sure he hits the required level of action beats mandated by the studio. Not that there aren’t some decent dramatic moments, of course, but many of the big set pieces of THE ICE ROAD are undercut by some truly dodgy CGI that wouldn’t look out of place in a SyFy original movie.

For a high-octane race against time, THE ICE ROAD starts to run out of fuel somewhere around the two-thirds mark as it gets bogged down in a subplot of corporate conspiracies and Matt McCoy’s milquetoast boardroom villainy, crowned by a final rock ‘em sock ‘em fight between Neeson and the principle bad guy that’s so farcical it strays into slapstick comedy territory. Fortunately, Neeson has just the right amount of gravitas to keep things on an even keel and ensure the movie delivers its payload.

score 5