Ever since Liam Neeson used his “particular set of skills”, his star on the action movie front has only gone up. Whether the movies are actually good or not seems to be a moot point as evidenced by the popularity of his last few films. It is also evidenced by his recent film, The Ice Road, which can be seen on Netflix and is now the number one movie on the streaming service.
The Ice Road has our favorite Taken action hero using a different set of skills this time. Liam Neeson plays Mike McCann, an aging trucker who is employed with his brother Gurty at a trucking company. Gurty is a veteran of the Iraq War who suffers from PTSD and aphasia, a neurological disorder that is caused by significant head trauma and results in difficulty speaking as well as numerous other issues with communicating. When a co-worker calls Gurty “retarded”, Mike responds with a punch that gets himself, as well as Gurty, fired.
The pair then respond to an alert for ice road truckers. An explosion in a Manitoba mine has trapped 26 miners inside and ice road truckers are needed to help rescue those trapped. Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) agrees to lead the truckers on the dangerous mission, which is to bring three wellheads to the mine, across the frozen ocean. Also going along on the mission is Tantoo (Amber Midthunder) and Tom Varnay (Benjamin Walker of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter fame).
Spoilers follow! As they head out, the team must take an old bridge in order to reach the trapped miners. Goldenrod’s truck seizes as they begin to cross. During his attempt to get his truck going, the bridge collapses, breaking Goldenrod’s leg. Knowing there is only one way to save the rest of the crew, Goldenrod convinces Tantoo to cut the cable that has him trapped, sacrificing his life for the others.
Immediately Mike and Varnay accuse Tantoo of sabotaging Goldenrod’s rig so she could collect the entire payment for herself. She then responds by telling the men that her brother is one of the miners trapped.
Not everyone is on the up and up and when Mike and his brother find themselves trapped in the back of their rig loaded with dynamite, they know there is more to the trapped miner’s story than what they had been told.
Now Mike must use some familiar set of skills to get to the bottom of the mystery but first he and his brother must escape their rigged rig. We will not spoil the rest of the film, as the action is ramped up and Liam Neeson finds himself in familiar territory when he battles the baddies.
Netflix brought The Ice Road to its streaming service under the direction of Jonathan Hensleigh, who also penned the script. In terms of directing films, Hensleigh’s resume is not a lengthy one. He directed the 2004 version of the Thomas Jane-led The Punisher, then he went on to direct the 2007 film Kill the Irishman before grabbing the chair for The Ice Road.
Hensleigh is better known as a writer, having written such big films as Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Saint, Armageddon, Next, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. He has also written on the TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.
As for Liam Neeson, The Ice Road marks more familiarity for his fans. While not the same action they have seen with his Taken movies, or even his non-Bryan Mills action pieces such as Non-Stop, The Commuter, A Walk Among the Tombstones, or Run All Night, The Ice Road does put Neeson in a few situations where violence is necessary.
But The Ice Road is also a reflection of where Neeson stands in his action movie career. It follows his recent action movies like Cold Pursuit, Honest Thief, and The Marksman, where the action is tempered as is the hand-to-hand fighting we have all come to love in Liam Neeson’s action movies. Can you blame the man, though? The man is nearly 70, which usually leads to slowing down when it comes to action films.
In fact, Liam Neeson himself said that while he isn’t retiring from making movies, he may have but one or two pure action films left in him. “Oh, yeah. I think so,” he said ET’s Lauren Zima in a January 2021 interview. “I’m 68 and a half. 69 this year. There’s a couple more I’m going to do this year — hopefully, COVID allowing us — there’s a couple in the pipeline and, then I think that will probably be it. Well, unless I’m on a Zimmer frame or something.”
Up next for Liam Neeson are the action thrillers Blacklight and Memory. Neeson is currently filming Retribution, whose premise sounds much like the Keanu Reeves hit movie Speed. In Retribution, Neeson plays a bank executive who, while driving his children to school, receives a bomb threat saying his car will explode if they stop and get out.
Even though his action movie career may be winding down, fans still have a few more films to look forward to. Of course, we also have a great “special set of skills” catalog to go to when we need our Liam Neeson fix. It is also quite possible we may see Neeson grab his lightsaber one more time as Qui-Gon Jinn if rumors are to be believed.
The Ice Road can now be seen only on Netflix.