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Film / The Ice Road

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A 2021 American action thriller written and directed by Jonathan Hensleigh that has a team of truckers that have to bring help for people trapped in a mine collapse.

The movie stars Liam Neeson, Laurence Fishburne, Benjamin Walker, Amber Midthunder, Marcus Thomas, Holt McCallany, Martin Sensmeier, Matt McCoy, and Matt Salinger.

It was released on June 25, 2021 on Netflix.

Tropes for the film:

  • Aerith and Bob: Mike McCann and his brother Gurty.
  • Alliterative Name: Mike McCann.
  • Badass Driver: The truckers are this by design (driving over frozen lakes is a very risky business), sent on a rescue mission.
  • Badass Native: Tantoo, one of the film's badass drivers, is introduced being released from jail following a protest her people, the Cree, are staging ("We’re gonna keep doing it until you get off our land.").
  • Big Brother Instinct: Mike does not likes it at all when people hurt his brother Gurty. His first scene has him knock the hell out of a Jerkass trucker who is bullying Gurty because he has aphasia (a latter scene has Goldenrod pointing out that this kind of situation has happened in, and gotten Mike fired from, several other trucking companies already). His second scene has him trying to admit Gurty to a VA hospital because they are out of work and, in his own words, "I'm not getting any younger"note , but gets him out of the hospital and threatens to beat the crap out of the doctor when his idea to "help" Gurty is to dose the everliving crap out of him with antidepressants and opioids.
  • Bittersweet Ending: More on the "sweet" side: Mike and Tantoo make it to the mine with the one surviving wellhead, just in time to save the miners from suffocation. With the miners alive, they tell their side of the story, leading to Sickle getting fired and arrested. However, Goldenrod and Gurty both die during the journey.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Goldenrod (Fishburne) dies first as a result of an accident caused by a saboteur in a somewhat Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Cold Equation: Defied. One of the miners becomes a Rabble Rouser and tries to get the wounded killed and thus the rest of the survivors (and he) will have more air, but the leader of the crew pulls out a Zippo and threatens to blow them all up with the methane that is trapped with them if they try.
  • Comically Small Bribe: A rare dramatic example. Sickle Mining Corporation ordered several miners to keep quiet about their Cutting Corners measures by paying them a hundred dollars and threatening to fire them if they talked about it. Lamprad, the miners' supervisor, is upset about the miners selling themselves out and enraged about it being for so little.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: To cover up that they were responsible for bribing miners into cutting safety corners, Sickle plans to have Varnay sabotage the rescue mission so the miners die, making everything look like a tragic accident, then weather the storm of debates about workplace safety and reopen the mines.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Sickle is willing to let the miners die to cover up the lack of safety measures at the diamond mine.
  • Cutting Corners: The Big Bad of the film is a mining corporation that decided to cut down on measures to ensure miner safety (namely, methane detectors) for the sake of keeping on mining. Said disregard ends up causing an explosion (by the miners hitting a methane pocket) and a cave-in. The Sickle mining corporation is willing to take any measures to make sure this does not comes to light. Any measures.
  • Cut the Safety Rope: During the trip, Goldenrod's engine seizes. While attempting to repair it, the ice beneath his trailer breaks and his leg gets trapped. Knowing he can't escape, he convinces Tantoo to sever the strap attaching him to her truck, causing him to drown but saving the other two rigs and wellheads.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: When Lamprad (the trapped workers' leader) asks Mankins (the rabble rouser and the one who is connected to the Corporate Conspiracy) how much did he and his fellow miners got paid to keep quiet about the lack of safety, Mankins says that $100 each. Lamprad is utterly disgusted to hear that it was such a small amount (Mankins also adds that they were all threatened with being fired as well, not that it helps him).
  • The Dragon: Tom Varnay, the alleged "insurance representative" of Sickle's mining company who is there to "supervise" (read: sabotage) the transport by any means necessary.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: After saving Gurty from drowning, Mike tries to ask him why Varnay, who's on the mining company's payroll, would be trying to sabotage the rescue mission, only to immediately realize they were intended to fail.
  • Foreshadowing: The moment Goldenrod mentions that all three rigs carry the exact same cargo for the sake of "tactical redundancy" (read: it's a borderline Suicide Mission and they hope at least one makes it to the destination), you just know that two of them will be wrecked (and they do: Goldenrod’s rig and trailer are lost alongside Goldenrod, Mike's rig loses its cargo and Tantoo's rig is destroyed with the cargo surviving).
  • Handicapped Badass: Gurty McCann is an ex-Marine who got aphasia from IED injuries and is good with a solid punch and even better at fixing vehicles.
  • Hard Truckin': The convoy is transporting the equipment to rescue a group of trapped miners in Canada, taking an extremely dangerous route over a frozen lake to make it before they suffocate. And complicated by a corrupt VP, Sickle, who wants the miners to die.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: When Tantoo's rig gets caught in the avalanche, she gets speared through the shoulder by a broken branch.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
    • Midthunder and Neeson previously worked together on The Marksman.
    • Walker worked with Neeson on Kinsey.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: At the mountain, Varnay plans to drive Tantoo's truck off a cliff to make it look like she lost control and crashed. After she escapes, he warns the henchmen chasing her and Mike not to use their guns, since even one bullet could expose that the failed rescue attempt was deliberate.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Varnay's plan to sabotage the rescue mission boils down to killing everyone involved and pass it all off as a tragic accident.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Liam Neeson keeps talking with his Irish brogue with a brother that served in the Marines (and got aphasia from IED-caused injuries) and roars out in one scene "kiss my Irish ass!", implying he is an immigrant.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Tantoo points out to Mark how protective she is towards her brother, in the same way Mark is towards Gurty.
  • The Place: The film's name comes from the ice road that the truckers have to brave to get to the mine.
  • Tagline: "This mission is on thin ice".
  • Team Pet: Skeeter, Gurty's pet rat.
  • Time Skip: The conclusion takes place three months later with Tantoo working as a mechanic with Mike visiting her in his new truck.