If you’ve never heard of the name Jonathan Hensleigh, I can make this game easier for you. “Die Hard: Revenge”, “Jumanji”, “The Saint”, “Armageddon”, “The Punisher”, among other great hits that mobilized generations. The filmmaker knows what the audience wants to see. It’s been a while since Liam Neeson has been making films that are very similar in genre, script and role. In fact, it seems that he has embraced a type of character that never strays too far from what we already know.
“The Ice Road” is an action thriller released in 2021, written and directed by Hensleigh, who brings back the familiar character of Liam Neeson, this time incarnated as Mike McCann, a truck driver sent on a rescue mission to trapped miners in an inhospitable, highly dangerous and frozen place. Regardless of whether the feature film already has a very similar development to several other action films, Netflix found it valuable enough to pay 18 million dollars to have it in its catalog.
Inspired by “The Wages of Fear”, a film by Henri-Georges Clouzot released in 1953, “The Ice Road” is not a remake, but it is a very similar frozen version. Jonathan Hensleigh, who has a more prolific career as a screenwriter than as a director, knew that this film was a great opportunity in Hollywood to leverage his professional side in directing. And although the role of McCann had gone to some younger actor, when Liam Neeson’s agent called Hensleigh to offer to play him, he felt that the bar for the production was definitely raised.
Hensleigh still had some challenging goals in mind. To make his story even more tense and realistic, he looked for somewhere that had dangerous ice roads to place his film trucks. Then, he discovered Winnipeg, the coldest city in the world, located in Canada, where you can put 18-wheelers on real ice roads. But don’t think it was easy. The extreme weather and thermal conditions were torture for the entire production and for the actors. In an interview, Hensleigh commented that Lawrence Fishburn, who plays one of the mission’s truck drivers, Jim Goldenrod, was having difficulty saying his lines. This was because it was so cold that he couldn’t control the movements of his jaw. But one of the situations that most impressed the director was when Liam Neeson decided to actually go into negative 25º water to record a scene.
Despite being an action film, it is expected that there will be great CGI effects, but the production guarantees that 98% of what was recorded was real. And it really does look good, which is already a great merit and a great relief for the eyes of viewers, who can no longer handle so many visual effects that don’t look even slightly realistic on the screen. Another merit of the film was that it was so lucky to have captured talented actors, such as the aforementioned Neeson and Fishburn, as well as Benjamin Walker, Adam Hurtig, Holt McCallany and Amber Midthunder.
Film: The Ice Road
Direction: Jonathan Hensleigh