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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

The Ice Road (M) - 109 minutes

After a methane gas explosion, 26 miners are trapped underground in one of the coldest regions of North America.

They are destined to suffocate to death unless rescuers can get a massive well head to them and break through the hard rock within 30 hours.

The odds are stacked against them even further because the only access is through ice roads five weeks after it was deemed too dangerous to traverse them.

The man doing the hiring is Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne), an industry stalwart, who is leading the charge.

On his roster is a long-servicing, experienced big-rig driver, Mike McCann (Liam Neeson) and his war veteran, brain damaged brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), a whip smart mechanic.

At the helm of a third vehicle is a young activist and former employee of Goldenrod’s, Tantoo (Amber Midthunder).

They are joined by a representative of the insurance company responsible for footing the bill, Tom Varnay (Benjamin Walker).

In a nutshell, virtually everything that could possibly go wrong in the perilous journey to help the trapped miners does.

While this was no straight forward road trip to start with, there is a lot more here than at first meets the eye.

At the core of the script by writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh (Kill the Irishman) – who was inspired by the French film Wages of Fear (1953) – are greed and skulduggery.

There are clashes aplenty, with the elements adding considerably to the task at hand.

So, tension is the name of the game.

To get the most out of this action thriller you need to suspend belief on more just the odd occasion.

Liam Neeson brings as much credibility as he can to another role involving bravado and defying the odds.

Laurence Fishburne adds authority as the man tasked with helming the posse to the remote diamond mine below the Arctic Circle in remote northern Canada.

Marcus Thomas has a more difficult part as the mentally challenged but highly capable mechanic, which he largely manages to pull off.

Amber Midthunder is called upon to channel a “me versus authority, nothing is beyond me” attitude.

Let me put it this way, not all of the acting is as convincing as that of the leads.

In the end … in fact, long before the final credits roll, The Ice Road becomes a procedural.

The conclusion is never really in doubt.

It comes down to just how many twists scriptwriter Jonathan Hensleigh can work into the storyline – pushing the envelope and then some.

The Ice Road is no world beater, rather a more often than not predictable, if implausible, actioner played out in harsh terrain.

Rated M, it is one for a rainy afternoon and scores a 5½ out of 10.


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