Released: 25th June
Seen: 29th June
In 2000 the History Channel had a series known as “Suicide Missions” and during that series they aired a special on the profession of Ice Road Truckers. This episode would prove to be popular during reruns and would lead to one of History Channel’s biggest hit series, known simply as Ice Road Truckers. The show went for 11 seasons, the last one ending in 2017. Now, what’s mildly interesting is that the first season was so popular that Fox bought the rights to make a movie out of it. I’m not sure if this is what that movie ended up being but it sure does seem like the kind of thing you commission in 2008 and bury for 13 years because it’s utter garbage.
The Ice Road follows a driver with a particular set of skills named Mike (Liam Neeson) and his brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas) who also has PTSD and Aphasia, which basically means he’ll be spouting random words instead of understandable dialogue and that’s literally it. The two brothers get fired from one job which makes them available for another job that Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishbourne) is offering them. See, there’s this mine in Katka that collapsed after the miners accidentally came upon a methane pocket and caused a tiny cave in so they need to deliver a wellhead to the mine (Because apparently no one thought to have this important piece of equipment on site). Naturally on the trip to deliver this there’ll be disaster, sabotage and murder… muhahaha kill me.
Look, I’m tired of Liam Neeson action movies. I’m so very done with them that it’s going to take nothing short of a miracle for me to get invested in them again and The Ice Road is everything short of a miracle. It’s bad, it’s really bad. On a basic script level, it’s overcomplicated, deciding that a profession that’s so dangerous it literally was referred to as a Suicide Mission when it came to the public consciousness isn’t enough so one of our main characters (Spoilers, it’s the most boring one who I haven’t mentioned yet because I don’t care) is there to sabotage the trip because the big evil corporation doesn’t want to deal with the fallout from the rescued workers coming back… because “Murdering the rescuers” is apparently more cost effective than “Don’t call for rescuers”.
Yeah, the ultimate villain is capitalism… which is the most realistic thing this movie has to offer.
Of course, the evil corporate overlords doing the stupid thing does fit with this movie’s idea of character traits, namely “EVERYONE IS UNLIKABLE AND ALSO STUPID!”. I mean seriously, there is not a single character you can like. Maybe Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), the only woman in the entire film might be likable but she is really just there because they couldn’t have the film be all men. So they made this character who would be likable if she did stuff but she spends so long either unconscious or just out of commission that it’s a wash.
Everyone else? Total morons who I wouldn’t allow to operate heavy machinery for any reason whatsoever. From the miners who turn off the methane sensors (yes, it’s revealed they were told to do that by the evil capitalist overlords who thought it would slow them down, that doesn’t make it less dumb. It’s the technological equivilant of snapping the neck of the canary because you think the sound it’s making is annoying) to the dumb characters who drive the big trucks who don’t seem to understand that if you put your foot in a metal rope loop that’s between two giant trucks, that loop might close and take the leg. There are so many moments I caught myself just sighing from how incompetent these characters were.
Now, this doesn’t mean you need to have a cast of smart people… hell, if it wasn’t for a cast of idiots half of the slasher movie genre wouldn’t exist. However when you have a movie about an incredibly dangerous job like ice road trucking, that’s a job that requires you to NOT be a total brain dead idiot so seeing these people doing stupid things just becomes stupid… and then there’s the murderer, why do we need a murderer in a movie about a job that’s known to be lethally dangerous? Why can’t the danger be the actual elements, the ice roads, the avalanches, things that happen that aren’t “Guy who is there for no reason tries to do sabotage and murder to everyone else because capitalist pig dogs demand he does murder!”. It’s not interesting, it’s annoying.
Also annoying is how The Ice Road seems to have borrowed all of it’s graphics from 2000’s era PlayStation games, to the point where the shot of an avalanche (caused by our mysterious murderer, because he turns full supervillain by the end) is so laughably bad that I was almost in tears. It’s 2021, we’ve been doing this stuff for decades now and this movie looks like it just used the test footage done to test the timing of the effect and stopped there. We’ve seen films set in snowy climates look absolutely gorgeous, go back to something like Hateful Eight and witness how that film used the snow like a beautiful canvas that everything else was painted on… this film uses the snow like a bunch of bird shit that’s smearing across the screen and staining it with its very presence.
I can’t think of a single thing I liked about The Ice Road, it’s a bland film that could’ve been something cool or interesting if anyone had tried but I can’t say I saw that here. I saw a film where things happened and no one gave a damn, least of all this poor member of the audience who just regretted the entire experience. I’d rather do the ice bucket challenge a hundred times in a row than watch The Ice Road one more time, thank god I just watched it on the US Netflix instead of waiting until it was in an Australian Cinema in 2 months (Another stupid thing about this stupid movie!)