‘The Ice Road’ review: Liam Neeson’s latest action flick is a dud
MOVIE “The Ice Road”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT Catch Me If You’ve Heard This: Liam Neeson stars in an action movie as a loner seeking revenge on the forces that wronged him and a family member.
In the ongoing Mad Libs game that constitutes Neeson’s career in the genre, this time it’s about a truck driver named Mike, hired with his brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas) to join a team assembled by Goldenrod of Laurence Fishburne.
They are on a rescue mission to drive rigs with wellheads down dangerous ice roads to a diamond mine in northern Manitoba, Canada, where about two dozen miners have been trapped at the following a methane explosion.
The betrayal component occurs when it becomes apparent that the mining company might not want the mission to succeed.
MY SAID It’s been more than a decade since Neeson launched his career renaissance with “Taken,” going from an actor involved in a range of projects across genres to an action-thriller star.
That means we’re past the point of speculating why such an accomplished actor seems to feel an almost single-minded drive to make movies that require him to growl, grimace, make dark statements, and beat up the bad guys.
There’s no doubt that he’s very good at it, and his presence in even the silliest films immediately lends an element of seriousness that counterparts such as Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage can’t be counted on.
But at one point in “The Ice Road,” writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh (“Armageddon”) asks this magnificent actor to tap into his charismatic depth to deliver the following line of dialogue: “Gurty is like that commercial; takes a lickin’, but keeps tickin’.”
There’s no one who could take dialogue like that and make it into anything more than a ridiculous joke. You could combine Daniel Day-Lewis, Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington into one mega-actor and even this hybrid superstar would have no idea what to do with such a line.
So it’s no surprise that Neeson appeared in a lousy thriller that, if it wasn’t on Netflix, might be destined for the bottom of a DVD screen behind a target. Nor is it his fault that the film stinks.
For that, blame a plot that piles cliché upon cliché with an end result of mush – not only is it a dramatic rescue story, it’s also a conspiracy movie and a story of revenge.
Add to that the complete lack of sense of humor. End it with action-packed scenes of characters doing things that make absolutely no sense – you can get impaled with a tree in the world of “The Ice Road” and still be perfectly fine – and you’re left with a total failure.
LOWER RESULT There are many best Liam Neeson action movies out there.