The Ice Road Ending, Explained

There is an innate excitement about watching action films starring Liam Neeson. Even if the plotline is often predictable, the audience knows that Neeson’s films are almost always high on the entertainment value. But then there are films like ‘The Ice Road,’ which goes well beyond the norm to become an intelligent action thriller. The movie stars Neeson as a veteran big-rig ice driver Mike McCann, who comes from North Dakota, US, to Manitoba, Canada, to answer an emergency message meant for truckers. Here is everything you need to know about ‘The Ice Road’ ending. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Ice Road Plot Synopsis

In the Katka Diamond Mines in Northern Manitoba, two explosions occur due to a methene built-up, killing 8 and trapping 26 miners inside Mine 6. Among them are Rene Lampard (Holt McCallany) and Cody (Martin Sensmeier). The General Manager at Katka, Sickle (Matt McCoy), and VP of Operations, Tager (Bradley Sawatzky), are told by Deputy Minister O’Toole (Paul Essiembre) not to let anyone go inside the tunnel until the gas is “drilled and capped.”

O’Toole first reaches out to the air force and is told that such an operation is not feasible under those conditions. His only option turns out to be sending the 18-feet-long, 25-ton gas wellheads through the ice road. He designates the job of finding correct truckers to Mine Safety Supervisor Tully (Marshall Williams), who reaches out to Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne), the owner of a local trucking company.

Meanwhile, in Pembina, North Dakota, Mike loses his job after punching a fellow trucker for mocking his younger brother, Gurty (Marcus Thomas). A military veteran who has fought in Iraq, Gurty has aphasia. Mike has been taking care of him until now, but it has proven to be increasingly difficult. And Mike realizes that his tenure on the road will soon come to an end as well.

After receiving the emergency message for truckers, Mike decides to leave his brother at a facility in North Dakota. But when he discovers that the doctor there has prescribed opioids for Gurty, Mike breaks his brother out, and they leave for Canada together. At Goldenrod’s office, Gurty demonstrates what an exceptional mechanic he is, and both he and his brother become a part of Goldenrod’s crew. The fourth and final member of the crew is Tantoo (Amber Midthunder), Cody’s sister. Before they leave, the crew discovers that Varnay (Benjamin Walker), who seemingly works at Katka’s insurance branch, will be joining them.

As they make their way through the perilous ice road of April, Goldenrod’s truck suddenly stops. Mike decides to haul the truck behind the one he is driving. But the ice under them starts to crack. Goldenrod’s foot gets caught in the cable and drowns along with his truck. Varnay later speaks to Mike and tells him that he saw Tantoo put gasoline in the diesel engine of Goldenrod’s truck. Before they left for the job, they were told they would get $200,000 in total, split in four ways. If one of them perishes during the journey, the money will be split among the remaining three.

Likely recalling how callous Tantoo was when she heard this, Mike believes Varnay and confronts her. When she tells him about Cody, Mike decides to check with Tully before making a decision. In the mines, as the oxygen starts to decrease rapidly, some of the miners decide to vote on who gets to continue living, much to the horror of Lampard and Cody.

In the meantime, Varnay decides to act. He traps Mike and Gurty inside the back of their truck and subdues Tantoo. He then ignites the fuses on some dynamites, places the explosives under Mike’s truck, and drives away. Fortunately for Mike and his brother, they get out of the truck right on time for Mike to grab the dynamites and throw them away from the truck before they explode. Realizing that some people at Katka want them to fail, Mike becomes inspired to race against time and fight his way through if need be to get to the mines to deliver the wellheads.

The Ice Road Ending: How Does Mike Save the Miners?

Although the crew set out with three wellheads, only one was needed. But they wanted to achieve tactical redundancy to ensure that the miners’ lives will be saved. The idea was that even if they lose two wellheads during the journey, there will be a third wellhead that they can take to the mines. This is later proven to be the correct course of action as the drivers lose two wellheads during the journey. The first drowns with Goldenrod and his truck, while Mike’s impatience and temporary unwillingness to listen to his brother causes the loss of the second.

Later, Tantoo gets seriously injured, and Gurty dies while trying to prevent the remaining truck from falling down a cliff. After Varnay died in an altercation between him and Mike, the latter drives Tantoo’s truck to the mines, where the wellhead is used to extract the methane gas, and the miners are subsequently rescued. The final scenes of the movie reveal that Mike has bought a Kenworth truck with his share of the money, just like his brother wanted, and named it “TRK TRK TRK,” which was also picked by Gurty. As for Tantoo, she runs her own trucking business now.

How Does the Accident Occur? What Secrets Are the Katka Management Trying to Hide?

Several of the miners were paid an extra $100 per month to hide the fact that the management had told them to cut the methane sensors. Sickle and Tager apparently told the miners that new quotas were having severe effects on the company, and the complete shutdown of the mines was just unaffordable. After the explosions, Sickle and Tager decide that they have to make sure that not one of the miners that know about the sensors comes out alive. This is why they send Varnay to sabotage the wellhead transportation. After they are rescued, Lampard speaks to the CEO of Katka, who seemingly has no idea about any of this. Sickle and Tager are arrested, but not before Mike gets a chance to punch Sickle.

Read More: Where Was The Ice Road Filmed?