THE ICE ROAD – Review by Susan Granger

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At age 69, grizzled Irish actor Liam Neeson (The Grey, Non-Stop, Cold Pursuit) has become one of Hollywood’s most steadfast leading men, accustomed to coping with catastrophic situations. This time, he’s a rugged, long-haul trucker based in North Dakota.

When there’s a sudden explosion of methane gas, hapless diamond miners are trapped deep below the surface in remote Manitoba, knowing that their oxygen will soon run out.

Mike McCann (Neeson) and his younger brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas), a skilled mechanic who suffers from P.T.S.D. & aphasia as the result of a war injury in Iraq, are summoned by trucker Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) to transport rescue drilling equipment – 30-ton gas wellheads – across northern Canada’s treacherous terrain during the spring thaw when ‘ice roads’ are normally closed.

As part of a convoy of three 18-wheelers, they’re joined by feisty Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), an Indigenous Canadian woman whose brother is among the trapped miners, along with sleazy Vernay (Benjamin Walker), an insurance claims adjuster from corporate headquarters.

As they proceed along the only route that will allow them to reach the mine in time, they encounter cracks in the rapidly melting ice, pressure waves, storms, avalanches and deceptions as they fight for traction.

Taking his cue from the success of the History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers, screenwriter/director Jonathan Hensleigh (Kill the Irishman) has fashioned a formulaic action-thriller, populated by predictably clichéd characters…although I did learn the reason why truckers keep bobbleheads on their dashboards.

And if the concept feels familiar, perhaps you’re recalling Henri Georges Clouzot’s classic 1953 French thriller The Wages of Fear, based on a novel by George Arnaud, about trucks carrying explosive nitroglycerine through the mountains; in 1977, it was remade by William Friedkin as Sorcerer.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The Ice Road is a scary, intense 6, streaming on Netflix.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.