Cert – 12, Run-time – 1 hour 49 minutes, Director – Jonathan Hensleigh
A team of ‘big-rig’ truck drivers set out across a dangerous road of ice in the hope of reaching a group of trapped miners before oxygen runs out.
Liam Neeson continues to tick off action films set in every kind of vehicle with his latest cold-climate venture, The Ice Road. He’s one of a select group of people who set out across a dangerous ice road in three heavy trucks, hoping to arrive at a collapsed mine before a group of trapped miners are overcome by leaking methane. It doesn’t sound like something that would be overly filled with action, and for the first half hour or so it’s not. The film pitches itself as perhaps something slightly mis-advertised. Coming across as more of a relatively straight drama, with slight hints of thriller mixed in. It isn’t anything overly complicated, but it’s an easy enough film to follow and poses something mildly interesting, if somewhat lacking in excitement.
However, as things begin to prove themselves as slightly thin writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh introduces a number of extra elements into the mix. There are groups and organisations out to stop the rescue mission from succeeding, we mostly know this because of heavy discussion about not letting the press hear about anything that’s happening. As more and more elements are added the film simply becomes an unengaging action flick; too lengthy and generic to be anything enjoyable.
As the action proceeds the miners, who were the initial point of the rescue and the film as a whole, appear to be forgotten about. When they are finally shown again their brief scenes feel more like casual reminders that they exist, and of the more dramatic tone that was once present. With the flicking from place to place and person to person, and gradual increase in focus on action, there’s little ability to be able to connect with anyone. Hensleigh attempts to show a connection between Neeson’s character, Mike, and his war veteran brother, Gurty (Marcus Thomas). Gurty suffers from PTSD and aphasia, and there’s clearly meant to be a close bond between the brothers, however there’s a lack of connection to them and any of the characters. The film struggles to gain an emotional response to anything that happens to the relatively undetailed characters that appear throughout it. Even moments of peril where lives are on the line – aside from those of the sidelined miners – don’t get a proper response.
There’s an evident jumble throughout The Ice Road as it realises that the content that it starts out with likely won’t be enough to carry it along to the end. Signs start as an unfitting action score backs more simplistic dramatic scenes in the earlier stages of the mission. Soon multiple characters are (forgettably) brought in, and some (forgettably) out. The film finds itself with a long 109 minute run-time mostly made up of unengaging and basic action that still flicks between multiple characters and locations, feeling both simplistic and yet too all over the place to be able to properly follow. The finished product is one that’s too full of detail lacking elements that are pushed aside for ineffective and unengaging action.
The Ice Road starts out as a watchable enough drama, however as it introduces more and more elements and boosts the action things become far more unengaging and generic causing it to fall through the thin ice it travels across.