CHENNAI: “The Ice Road,” starring Liam Neeson, is set in the icy wild of northern Canada, where a number of diamond miners find themselves trapped with their oxygen levels running low.
Written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh, his first feature since “Kill the Irishman” a decade ago, the movie fits into the ever-exciting catastrophe genre.
Neeson, no stranger to the frozen wilderness (“The Grey,” “Cold Pursuit”), plays Mike, a heavy-duty trailer truck driver. His brother, Gurty (Marcus Thomas), suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after a stint serving in Iraq.
When a methane explosion at a Canadian diamond mine traps dozens of men, with planes unavailable and helicopters unable to carry the heavy rescue machinery, Mike is asked to help, given his experience in navigating trucks across treacherous ice roads. He agrees — despite the fact that it is spring, and the ice is beginning to melt.
Three trucks set off, with one driven by Mike and Gurty, a second by the owner of the truck company, Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) and the third by Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), an Indigenous Canadian woman whose brother is among the trapped miners. Tantoo is accompanied by Varnay (Benjamin Walker), a mine insurance representative.
The show is full of violence and suspense, with both the truck convoy and trapped miners facing difficult decisions amid their escalating predicaments. Hensleigh offers plenty of excitement, but with Neeson now 69, he is perhaps a little too weary to carry such an action-laden show.
Midthunder, meanwhile, hardly fits the bill as a driver rugged enough to see her truck through such perilous terrain. In one scene, she tells Gurty that she done this a thousand times, which beggars belief; this seems to be a case of Hollywood falling back on old tropes when it comes to female casting.
It is monotonous and sometimes laughable, and overall, rather predictable. But, you could do worse for an evening of easy entertainment.