The latest Liam Neeson action vehicle. The Ice Road sees a remote diamond mine collapse in the northern regions of Canada. An ice road driver (Neeson) leads an impossible rescue mission over a frozen ocean to save the lives of the trapped miners despite thawing waters and an unexpected threat.
Written by Jack Ransom
Every year since 2008’s Taken, one thing has been a constant in the cinematic release schedule: a mid-to-low budget, largely disposable action feature with Liam Neeson in the lead role. However with this year’s Amazon Prime exclusive, the bottom of the barrel has well and truly been scraped, and it certainly doesn’t surprise me that the studio dropped it onto streaming.
Despite the admittedly unique location and plot scenario, the film is packed to the brim with predictable cliches, character motivations and reveals. The over-dramatic performances and attempts at emotionally heavy and dramatic moments have no impact whatsoever and fall into unintentional hilarity. There are two key character deaths that are slowly executed with little tension. This could have been so easily avoided, they rival the CGI with how unbelievable they are.
Speaking of the CGI, it is incredibly poor. Any large scale ice destruction or anything involving heavy snowfall and vehicular crashes simply look like they have been pulled from an early PlayStation 3 game cut scene. There is some strong practical stunt work involving the lorries towards the finale, but the choppy editing and dull choreography neuter any hand to hand combat.
The editing is frankly bizarre and sloppy in a couple of the dialogue scenes. One conversation between two characters in a garage puts them both in a very odd height perspective and a conversation between Neeson & Fishburne’s characters is cut like they are stood next to each, but shouting at full volume as if they were miles away. Visually the film lacks any unique stylization of flair. It’s a dull flat experience for the eyes, that honestly could have passed for a made for TV feature.
Neeson puts in a decent performance. At times he seems very much on autopilot but there are moments of dedication to the material. The same goes for Laurence Fishburne and Amber Midthunder gives a suitably snarky performance, but her dialogue can topple her into cheesy and overly edgy territory. Marcus Thomas and Benjamin Walker both have very stereotypical roles and unfortunately the main antagonists and the miners never get enough time spent on them to be of interest.
The Ice Road slips and falls into the frozen depths of at the bottom of 2021’s release pile. A dull, predictable chore that wastes its location and race against the clock premise. The CGI is diabolical throughout and there is no emotional investment in anything that is going on.