Icebreaker (1999)


“I’m a park ranger, not the Lone Ranger!”

The Scoop: 1999 PG-13, directed by David Giancola and starring Sean Astin, Bruce Campbell, and Stacy Keach

Tagline: No tagline

Summary Capsule: Terrorists, desperate for a vacation, capture ski resort. Rudy fights back.

Justin’s rating: Matt, Carl, Meg and Bill — classic sitcom cast for “All In The Terrorists”

Justin’s review: Some poor deluded idiots might contend that Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla to be the best match-up of the cinematic world. You young ‘uns might be all for the terrifying twosome of Freddy vs. Jason or Aliens vs. Predator, but that’s only because you haven’t been weaned off of your mommy’s breast milk just yet. There might even be a couple of you who mistakenly placed bets on Flintstones Meet The Jetsons, and lost their youngest child to a loan shark because of it.

No, if you’re really hard-core and you seek the best, the ultimatestest match-up of all Western and Eastern civilization, I give you… Bruce Campbell vs. Sean Astin! Ash vs. Sam The Hobbit! The Wrestling Announcer From Spider-Man vs. Rudy! The Human Chin vs. A Goonie!

It’s such a breathtaking thought that no doubt many of you have passed out and dented your head. “But Justin,” you mutter, blood bubbling from your lips. “Is this just a fantasy? A wonderful dream from which I shall never awake? Where can I possibly attain such cinematic grudge fight perfection?” Oh, look no further than a little slice of straight-to-video called Icebreaker, where all your wishes DO come true!

Unless you’re wishing for a good, original movie. Sorry. We’re all fresh out of those.

The easiest way to sum up how not-good Icebreaker is, other than the words “Sean Astin” in the title credits, is when you notice that the filmmakers didn’t have a realistic enough looking LED timer for a bomb, and had to animate the numbers counting down. When you make note of this small detail, all suspense in the film is gone, because they obviously don’t have a budget large enough to blow up anything larger than a very small cow, and terrorists like their milk.

icebreaker 2

Icebreaker is leaden with community theater-level acting, ranging from the apoplexy ski resort manager who trades in shouting for any decent emotional range, to the “comedic” sidekick who looks as if he might be a few DNA strands off of Road Trip’s D.J. Qualls. The anti-genius here is that these actors are paired up with a script that borrowed heavily from a passed-out Cliffhanger and Die Hard (who were just “experimenting” together in that hotel room, thank you very much) and then mistakenly assumed that the mere presence of a snowboard would be enough to distinguish this rip-off from the material it plagiarized from.

Sure, I can trash on this flick, but there’s little sport in it, seeing in how Icebreaker was one of those direct-to-video releases that only Blockbuster would buy. Instead, let us swivel our heads and look at the more fun aspects of such a movie turd.

Bruce Campbell is a big draw here, of course. Probably the only draw to anyone (me) who ends up renting this. Reportedly, Bruce was offered the hero role in this film, and opted for the villain character instead, citing that the villain was far more interesting than the hero. Which is true. Sean Astin’s Matt is just a stubborn guy with no notable yearbook entries under his photo, while Bruce’s Carl is all about the complex layers. He’s the baklava of bad guys. Carl’s hobbies include shaving his head (bald Bruce!), being so darkly evil that even the bad guys think that he’s a bit too intense, and having some sort of terminal disease that makes him a man with nothing to lose.

This is actually a good question: Carl doesn’t have anything to gain or lose through the events of this movie, so why is he so uptight about seeing his Bad Squad succeed in their task? He should’ve just gone home and watched some late night, and maybe written some bad LiveJournal poetry afterwards.

Questions like this plague Icebreaker, as scene after scene shows itself to be devoid of anything resembling connecting plot points, and this ends up being the best aspect. See, it could’ve just been a dumb and mediocre rip-off if it was executed well, but seeing as how it just spouts garblish from minute ten on, there’s enjoyment to be found in its absurdity. Icebreaker has to sport the worst thought-out terrorist plan in all of film history, and only through several weeks of intense therapy am I able to try to manage it all to bring it before you.

Some bad guys steal a Russian nuclear device, for some reason, probably to sell it or to explode it. They’re never very clear on that. Get used to the ambiguity. When one of the terrorists forces a pilot of a small plane to fly the crate over the mountains, the pilot nose-dives the plane into a nearby ski resort and gets shot as a thank-you for his effort. Naturally, the terrorists are all hot to trot to get their goods back so they can go on to do whatever it was that they didn’t tell us they were doing with it.

Now here comes the baffler. Instead of quietly sneaking up the mountain and retrieving the bomb with stealth (since no one knows the plane crashed but them), the terrorist team all but sends hand-written invitations to the local police and FBI to follow them and try to capture them. “Aha!” they said. “We have to get our deadly nuke bomb off that mountain! Hey, would you cops like to try to catch us? Give us at least a ten second head start, okay?”

Strangely enough, the terrorists further eschew the “retrieve the bomb and run away” plan for the “take over the whole ski resort for no reason and have large-scale gun battles in the snow with the cops for no good reason” plan. I mean, they’re very prompt and organized about this takeover, but this anal-retentive behavior doesn’t benefit them when they realize that this is the dumbest thing in the world they could be doing. They don’t make demands, they don’t give any sort of detailed explanation why they’re doing what they’re doing — unless you count Bruce Campbell’s vague speeches with more metaphors than a cat on a hot tin roof — they just kind of try to shoot and blow stuff up until it gives the good guys a chance to triumph. A victory over stupid terrorists is like winning a two-player game of Pac-Man that you played against yourself. There’s just no sport in it.

Icebreaker (a film in which NO ice is ever broken) is mock-worthy material if you’re seeking some, and an excellent platform for Bruce Campbell to chew up the scenery while looking quite bald. Not a lot of sense, blood or real action to speak of, though… and that’s not kosher with Justin.

"Sean-bitch. Let's go."
“Sean-ninny. Let’s go.”


  • The opening classical music is even a rip-off of Die Hard’s same use of this song
  • Yes, it’s a ski resort. I think you’ve established that already. Okay, can the movie start soon?
  • Bruce is bald!
  • Interrogation by helicopter
  • Uh-oh… he’s bringing in friends from CANADA!
  • Kind of blasé about a missing and probably dead forest ranger, aren’t we?
  • Evil girl wears too much eye mascara
  • The feds fire very loud guns and then use hand signals afterwards to be quiet? Hurh?
  • A high speed chase at… 35 mph!
  • Guess the feds like shooting the crap out of cars
  • Um… why are the bad guys trying to take over the resort? That’s kinda high profile.
  • Nooo… a container with a radiation symbol can’t be dangerous… noooo…
  • Pez rocks
  • Hehe… Bruce taking the phone call in the restaurant
  • How many terrorists do they have? And why are they fighting like a full-scale battle with the feds? NOTHING MAKES SENSE HERE!
  • Riveting scenes of people crawling in windows!
  • Only Barry doesn’t deserve to die
  • I like how the terrorists don’t look much concerned about anything, even when they’re under attack
  • Snipers take forever to fire
  • Rocket launchers can target individual people running
  • Terrorists love to talk about nonsense and make it sound deep
  • Police don’t usually lock up their vans with all those weapons inside
  • Terrorists no can ski
  • Pez is a deadly weapon

Groovy Quotes

Pilot: You’re evil!

Matt: Your kind of people don’t marry my kind.

Boss: Benny! I have a mission for you! There’s… there’s gum on this phone!

Carl: The real enemy here is time.

Earflap Guy: [about the shot, dead pilot] Pretty neat, huh?

Meg: He’s the love of my life!
Dad: Sweetheart, you have not lived that long yet.

Meg: Let me tell you about Matt. He’s the most decent person I’ve ever met…
[scene cut to Matt clobbering a terrorist with a backpack]
Meg: …he wouldn’t hurt a fly…
[scene cut to Matt punching out the terrorist]
Meg: I haven’t even heard him swear!
[cut to Matt, running from terrorists]
Matt: Son of a bitch!

Boss: People get scared when you start doing that! They, they start jumping off, like those… those jumpy things!
FBI Guy: Lemmings?

Barry: I’m a park ranger, not the Lone Ranger!

Boss: They’re all chickens! Worthless!

Barry: This guy’s a real Humpty Dumpty.

Boss: It’s time to kick it, Tilly!
Tilly: Kick what?

Boss: Ass, Tilly. Ass!

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