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The Ice Road | Review

The Ice Road is a baffling action picture, and a terrible vehicle for Liam Neeson to star in.

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*Warning: This piece contains spoilers for The Ice Road*

Liam Neeson’s gruff masculine performance is back (with a vengeance, yet again, because that’s the only thing he’s been doing for over ten years now) in The Ice Road, one of the most abysmal pictures you’ll see all year. Abysmal, how? It’s Liam Neeson driving a Kenworth truck on thin ice, as he and a crew of fellow truckers must bring a Wellhead to the Katka mine in Manitoba, in which a group of 26 miners are trapped due to a methane explosion; how can that be bad? Well, for starters, it starts early-on when Mark McCann (Neeson) quickly realizes that the Katka Mine company wants the crew to fail by sending an actuary (Benjamin Walker) to sabotage the mission and make sure they do not make it to the mine, as they are covering up a potential political scandal. This is where The Ice Road goes to shit, for lack of better words, and never wants to keep it simple instead.

The Ice Road': First Look At Liam Neeson In Action Rescue Movie – Deadline

Bad CGI aside, this could’ve been a rather enjoyable “race against time” movie, commanded by Neeson, in which the task-at-hand would be extremely difficult due to ever-changing weather and an unreliable ice surface. We’d obviously anticipate a positive outcome and success in the mission, even if some lives are lost, and the crew escapes the unthinkable multiple times. That’s not what happens, as director Jonathan Hensleigh wants to throw in a badly shoved-in commentary on the evils of being a “business as usual” capitalist, in which the millionaires sit at an office desk do not care about workplace safety if it equals more money for them. That’s fine if you want to paint the CEO of Katka as a spineless man who only cares about filling his pockets that’ll dictate his “tough decisions,” instead of making him look like an assassin (?) who’ll do anything to make sure the crew never arrives with the Wellheads? Why? What’s his endgame? To cover up the fact that he ordered the mining crew to cut off the methane sensors so the mine wouldn’t shut down? That’s it? You literally hire a killer to cover up your own mess to constantly fill your pocket and stage a tragedy? Who on earth would want to do something as baffling as this?

So instead of having this fairly standard “race against time” thriller I’ve mentioned in the last paragraph, we’re stuck inside a political action film/revenge flick we don’t want a part of. The trailers do not advertise The Ice Road as a political action film. Liam Neeson will have to exact revenge on the capitalists who want the crew dead to stage a tragedy, but rather a “race against time” thriller that I’ve mentioned for a third time now! Of course, there is the “race against time,” since McCann et al. has 30 hours to make it to the mine before the crew deprive themselves of oxygen and die, but the “race against time” the trailers promote is the one of unpredictable climate, thin ice and cracks that make for a perilous journey, not Benjamin Walker trying to kill everyone for reasons that make absolutely no sense! My God, imagine if you’re embroiled in a scandal that could end your career, and now you have the opportunity to become the hero of the day that has saved the Katka miners from asphyxiation! People will likely turn a blind eye to potential scandal if it means trying to do right by the mistakes you’ve made in the past instead of turning into a complete psychopath hellbent on making sure nobody lives to tell the tale of Katka’s malpractices. Of course, you turned out to be a heartless person, but at least you did the right thing for once and realized how egotistical you were by leaving the men to die and not caring about their safety.

Liam Neeson's Next Big Action Movie Is Going Straight To Netflix

The Ice Road doesn’t care about any of that, nor the moral aspects of leaving the miners to die. Once it’s revealed that Benjamin Walker’s Varnay sabotaged the mission and caused the death of Laurence Fishburne’s Goldenrod, this is where the film quickly fizzles out and never recovers afterward. Before that, it was an easygoing (albeit uninspired) truck action picture that only set itself up as being an environmental “race against time” picture. The environmental challenge is still there, with some of the worst CGI effects I’ve seen all year, but it takes a backseat and prefers to tell a story nobody cares about and has any interest in seeing. It’s completely baffling to see to what extent will Varnay go to make sure they don’t make it to the mine. His demeanor is particularly God-like, surviving the most unrealistic car crash imaginable, blowing up ice with dynamite in more ways than one, and ordering James Bond-lite henchman to kill McCann and his brother, Gurty (Marcus Thomas), without the use of weapons to make it look like an accident. The cherry on top is the final fight between Varnay and Mark—with a clear stunt double replacing Liam Neeson during close-up moments with soulless cinematography from Tom Stern, a usually decent director of photography.

Liam Neeson & 'The Ice Road' Cast Braved Extreme Temps for the Action  Thriller | Entertainment | insidenova.com

There’s no creativity in any of the film’s action sequences. They’re either horrendously shot to the point where it looks like a bad SyFy original or filled with visual effects likely made for 5¢ that renders every scene unintentionally hilarious. Varnay’s death is hilarious here, with the fakest waves you’ve ever seen since Sharknado. Since there’s no creativity to render any of the action scenes competent or palatable to watch, none of the performances particularly hit either. The only one that seems to care is Laurence Fishburne, who magnifies the screen by briefly starring in the film. Neeson phones in his usual macho schtick, adding not much else to his “this time, it’s personal” tenure he’s been doing in his sleep since he starred in the dreadful Taken trilogy. Neeson only seems to shine in action films when they’re directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, real action movies with a soul, compelling aesthetics, and competently shot action sequences.

Serra is an old-school filmmaker who knows exactly the kind of acting Neeson excels at, reviving his career à la Charles Bronson Cannon Group partnership. Jonathan Hensleigh, in the case of The Ice Road, only knows that Neeson will do a half-competent job as roles like these are now an easy paycheck for him. Neeson should absolutely do more than an easy paycheck and stick to more nuanced, dramatic performances instead of doing “gruff” Taken-esque action films all the time. They’re no fun anymore, for the audience and him as well. It’s finally time to move on.

The Ice Road is now streaming on Netflix (U.S. Only) and available to rent or buy on video-on-demand (Canada/International).

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miami’s finest end up on the run.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Cast:

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens

Plot Summary:

Miami’s finest end up on the run

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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One More Shot: Scott Adkins Returns in This Kick Ass Sequel Seemingly Shot in One Take.

With many immersing and kick ass action sequences, One More Shot is another technically impressive action film from director James Nunn.

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Scott Adkins One More Shot

Bigger, better, and more kick-ass than the first, One More Shot is another impressive one-take action film full of tension, stakes, and adrenaline fuelled action sequences. Much like the first, One More Shot is another action film shot in one-continuous take. With hidden cuts of course. This one-take style adds a greater level of intensity to the film by immersing audiences deeper into the action, and connecting audiences closer to it’s characters. James Nunn’s work behind the camera is even more precise than his previous effort. Blending excellent camera work, explicit framing, and fluid editing Nunn leave audiences with punchy (no pun intented), smooth, and enthralling action movie experience.

Scott Adkins once again kicks ass as Jake Harris, delivering another exhausting performance as he takes out waves of bad guys with guns, knives, and of course, his infamous high kicks. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast was pretty underwhelming with Alexis Knapp being the worst offender. Likewise, as exciting as it was to have Michael Jai White star alongside Scott Adkins again, he certainly doesn’t get the screen time he definitely deserved. White should have been the main antagonist. Not a high level bodyguard. With that said however, Michael Jai White’s and Scott Adkins’ brawl was a phenomenal piece of action cinema that action movie fans shouldn’t miss.

One More Shot is an action extravaganza with impressive work both on and off camera, and a brilliant early contender for action movie of the year.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

After the attack on the black site in Poland, Navy SEAL Jake Harris must escort suspect Amin Mansur (Waleed Elgadi) to Washington DC for interrogation. However, after the two become trapped at an airport in the US by an army of armed mercanaries, Jake Harris must protect Mansur or else the fate of America would be on his head.

Much like its predecessor One More Shot is a very technically impressive action movie. Whilst James Nunn proved himself as a fantastic action movie director with his previous endeavour, it’s One More Shot that truly cements it. The filmmaker nails the tension, pacing, cinematography and framing of every fight. The airport setting is much more immersing setting compared to the previous one, allowing for much more creative, and tight action sequences.

Complementing Nunn’s excellent direction, was the casts breathtaking physicality. Unsurprisingly Adkins steals the show with his efficiently brutal, and fast paced martial arts which add a level of finesse, and polish to every fight scene. Likewise, Michael Jai White was another standout. His large physique, matched with his fast and incredibly precise combat proves a deadly foe. Despite the amount of times we have seen Adkins and White go toe to toe, the novelty still hasn’t worn off. Both performers are expert in their craft and give every fight between the two their all. While it would’ve benefitted the film if Michael Jai White had a greater role to play, it was still an unrelenting, and exhilarating brawl. Fingers crossed he’s the big bad in the next one.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

While many have come to see fist fights, shoot outs, and explosions, One More Shot boast’s a surprisingly developed script that’s much deeper than its predecessor. Writers James Nunn, and Jamie Russell provide a well paced and intriguing story full of heart and tension. The characters are far more developed, and introducing audiences to Mansur’s wife, and unborn child greatly elevated the stakes.

The performances where perhaps the films biggest downfall. Adkins was fantastic, White was incredible, and Waleed Elgadi was captivating. As for the rest, their performances just felt lazy. They brought zero nuance to their characters, and seeing them on screen provoked a thought’s of “Damn, I can’t wait to they get killed off”.

One More Shot’s ending is a little abrupt, and while it does have a sweet resolution, the film sort of just ends. We don’t get to see much of the repocussions of the events that unfolding throughout the movie which raises more questions that answers. However, we guarantee that James Nunn and Jamie Russell are working a script for the final film, undoubtedly titled “One Last Shot”. Fingers crossed.

While it may be a little premature, One More Shot is damn great action film that could easily end up on many “Best Action Movie of the Year” lists by the time December roles around. It’s technically impressive, boasting great camera work, and imagery with many adrenaline fuelled action sequences scattered throughout.

One More Shot is available to purchase on demand January 16th

Check out the trailer below:

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