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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 12.11.13] Canada action

Sitting down to Ice Soldiers is a lot like getting comfortable with your favourite cheesy 80s action flick complete with big Russian dudes that look like Dolph Lundgren clones and zinger one liners ("I'm an Indian!"). It's the kind of goofy action flick that's just awesome enough to be a good time. It also happens to brand spanking new.

The trailer suggested this is dumb stuff but there's actually a pretty nifty story here about Cold War, genetically modified Russian soldiers who were sent on a mission to take over New York but ended up stranded in Northern Canada where they killed a bunch of people before going off into the freezing vastness.

Fast forward 50 years to the present day. Malraux (Dominic Purcell) is a scientist in search of his father, one of the not-fully-human Russian soldiers. His research is being used by Col. Desmond Trump (Michael Ironside) and his boss Jane Frazer (Camille Sullivan), a mining company executive, as a cover for her company to test for oil on a site that has been off limits for decades. It's a win/win for everyone until Malraux finds the bodies of the frozen soldiers, retrieves them to be examined only to have them inadvertently wake up hell-bent on continuing on their mission to destroy New York City.

The movie's entire backstory unfolds in the opening half hour which also manages to squeeze in some light flirting between Malraux and Frazer and sets up the rest of the movie for what is essentially a chase across the Canadian North. The Russians stumble on a trapper community from where they steal the essentials before heading into town pumping rap music and sporting a wardrobe that looks like an 80s relic. It's completely ridiculous, as is their pitstop at the local strip club for a drink with a fellow Russian, but director Sturla Gunnarsson is well aware of the cheesiness of the whole thing and he plays into it, giving us a bit of extra time with the Russians as they goof around with their new wardrobe and beats in the new wheels.

Ice Soldiers never feels bogged down by convoluted story and wanna-be emotional pull that no one really buys. Instead it takes what there is and runs with it, resulting in a movie that is unabashedly more concerned about delivering kick-ass action scenes instead of an eye rolling romantic moment between Malraux and Frazer.

Malraux eventually picks-up TC Cardinal (Adam Beach), a trapper who helps the scientist navigate to the trapper community and then decides to tag along for his own revenge. Cardinal is the prototypical sidekick (he comes with the best one liners) and Beach fits the role well. Same is true for Purcell who seems to be taking tips from Vin Diesel and channelling a very similar energy while TV regular Gabriel Hogan is nearly unrecognizable as the lead Russian soldier. He's bloody massive and its fun watching him and Purcell face off.

Ice Soldiers isn't re-inventing the wheel but then, it's not trying to either. Gunnarsson delivers an entertaining action movie that plays to the nostalgia while also introducing some new awesome (specifically the snowmobile chase that takes up most of the movie's final act), not to mention that for a movie that is mostly set in snow, it looks damned good. Great fun.

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