This movie tries to be too much and it doesn’t really work out.
I appreciate that Liam Neeson is one of the people who managed to make himself seem more badass as a lead as he got older. Even taking into account his portrayals of Rob Roy, Darkman, and Qui-Gon Jinn, Neeson really upped his game with his portrayal of one-man wrecking crew Bryan Mills in Taken. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone in his mid-50s. Since then, Neeson has starred in a number of films as roughly the same badass loner character, with diminishing returns. Unfortunately, this movie tries to use that to sell what is ultimately a failed endeavor. It hurts even more than the film was two years behind Cold Pursuit, a much better movie which also featured Neeson murdering bad guys with a large vehicle in a snowy location.
Neeson stars as Mike McCann, an Irish ice road trucker who punches out another trucker for mocking his mechanic brother Gurty (Marcus Thomas). Gurty is a veteran who has PTSD and traumatic brain injury, both of which give him aphasia (the inability to use the right words for things). Despite the fact that Mike was, again, defending a disabled veteran from an asshole, he is fired. At the same time, an explosion at a mine in Manitoba requires an emergency delivery of wellheads in order to save the lives of more than a dozen miners. McCann is hired to make the extremely dangerous run, accompanied by Gurty, Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), a native Canadian driver whose brother is in the mine, employer Jim Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne), and insurance agent Tom Varnay (Benjamin Walker). After making it through the first night, Goldenrod’s rig is sabotaged. It turns out that Varnay is actually not there to help them succeed, but to kill them and prevent the miners from being saved. Unfortunately, he’s trying to kill Liam Neeson, which is just never a good idea, even if you have help.
Like I said, this movie just really isn’t great. It starts off suggesting it’s going to be a man vs nature film like The Grey but then reveals that Varnay and his crew are the enemy. For the record, it’s not really a twist if it’s in the first act of the movie. The majority of the film is Mike and the Mechanic (anyone get that reference?) trying to survive against Varnay and kill him and his goons. The reasoning behind the murders isn’t even particularly compelling or believable. It’s played out to be a giant cover-up, but, let’s be honest, a major drilling company can do almost anything without any real consequence. The only thing that might actually cause them trouble would be committing murder. It ends up coming off as kind of dumb. The action sequences aren’t bad, but they really feel forced and unimpressive compared to other driving movies. Honestly, there just doesn’t seem to have been a ton of effort here.
Overall, skip it and watch Cold Pursuit.
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