For those into the Ice Road Truckers series this teaming of director Jonathan Hensleigh (Kill The Irishman) and Liam Neeson (The Marksman) has its share of slippery thrills.
The Ice Road is set in Northern Canada and revolves around getting a payload to a group of stranded diamond miners with about 30 hours of oxygen left after a methane detonation. The imperiled ticking-clock scenario occurs across long stretches of thawing ice in mid-April (the roughest part of the season concludes in March).
Neeson’s big-rig handler Mike is on the rebound for a windfall after taking task with colleagues belittling his brother and mechanic with a disability Gurty (Marcus Thomas).
Along with Mike and Gurty at the helm of one 65,000 rig are Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne in tough guy mode) and a Native American, Tantoo (filled with noticeable spunk and true grit by Amber Midthunder) with their rigs and payloads.
Hensleigh and his technical staff does much to augment the austerity of the environment (as was evident in an earlier Neeson pic Cold Pursuit that was less overworked and seemed to suit him a little better). You know at least part of the convoy will be compromised when maneuvering the variable lakes and terrain, not to mention a rickety, old bridge.
The CGI on hand here can seem a mite suspect as the antagonists for Mike and company are a change of pace from the usual underworld types; a brooding Varnay (Benjamin Walker) is representative of the corporate mentality ultimately.
An obstinacy with the action may keep less discerning viewers involved with Neeson out for the blue-collar folks this time around. He has that commitment at this stage of his career in strident bluster following in the ilk of venerable stars of yesteryear like Charles Bronson.
The Ice Road predictably rides a shaky infrastructure to its conclusion as older cineastes may be reminded of The Wages of Fear where nitroglycerine had to be transported. It’s not much of a stretch for Neeson with characterizations on the down low as he shifts the corniness with a kind of personal pride in the Great White North.