Scientists at an arctic base make an amazing discovery when they find the body of a prehistoric man that has been perfectly preserved in the ice. Dr. Stanley Shepherd (Timothy Hutton) and his fellow scientists suspect that the Iceman (John Lone) might be in a state of suspended animation. Instead of performing an autopsy when the body thaws it, the scientists attempt to resuscitate him.
And somehow, it works.
The Iceman, who is eventually named Charlie, is stunned to be in the modern world and does not know how to react to the scientists studying him. Only Dr. Shepherd treats Charlie as a human being instead of a laboratory specimen. Despite not speaking the same language, Charlie and Shepherd bond. Shepherd realizes that Charlie misses his family and eventually, he figures out that, when he was frozen, Charlie was attempting to stop the Ice Age by offering himself up as a sacrifice to a bird god. When Charlie sees a helicopter, he mistakes it for his god and starts tying to escape from the base. Realizing that Charlie will eventually be killed and experimented upon, Shepherd tries to help him escape.
If, and it’s a big “if,” you can overlook the implausibility of Charlie being in suspended animation for over 40,000 years, Iceman is actually a really good film with intelligent performances from both Timothy Hutton and John Lone. Lone is especially good as Charlie, capturing his confusion, fear, and eventually his heart. Even though he’s in a strange place and time, Charlie never stops thinking of his family and trying to get back to them. The film works because, like Shepherd, it understands Charlie is too good for the modern world.