Cold Pursuit Review
Cold Pursuit is without a doubt a very odd film, but in a good way.
Neeson makes a return in another revenge thriller, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’ll be the same old schtick.It’s not been the best week for Liam Neeson - I shan’t go into the details here, but suffice to say, a quick google search will fill in the blanks. But any controversy aside, this week Neeson’s latest action flick makes hits the big screen and with its tag line ‘Revenge is best served cold’ you might feel an eye roll coming on at what appears to be yet another ‘Liam Neeson’ revenge action movie where he, and he alone, must save the day with his skills.
Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland is behind this latest vengeance fuelled thriller who also happened to direct the film upon which it is based, the 2014 Kraftidioten (aka In Order of Disappearance). Set in a picturesque town surrounded by snow topped mountains Neeson’s Nels Coxman is less the man with a special set of skills and more the guy living the quiet country life. Working as a snowplough driver in the ski town of Kehoe, Colorado, Coxman has just been named Citizen of the year, a title that may be soon revoked after the events that are to unfold.
Cold Pursuit is without a doubt a very odd film but in a good way
After a family member of Nels' gets unwittingly and unwillingly caught up in a drug deal and taken ‘out of the way’ to tie up any loose ends, Nels finds himself quickly unravelling and looking to make those accountable, pay (sound familiar?). Little does he realise though that in doing so he treads upon the toes of two, very violent and dangerous, rival families, each one with its own bizarre nickname, who will pretty much stop at nothing to make sure that they are the last ones standing.
And it’s at this point that any expectations that you might have had going into this film are very quickly put on ice. This is not the usual romp for Neeson and it goes in every direction away from what the tag line suggests. Yes, there is revenge, and yes, there are some very bloody bone crunching, nose bleedy moments but it also incorporates a dark comedic undertones and a touch of the weird and wonderful.
Cold Pursuit is without a doubt a very odd film but in a good way. It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but there’s something just odd about it. Its main character is Neeson’s Nels, who is absent for lengthy stretches of time and given hardly any backstory, a bit odd for a character who we’re supposed to sympathise with, right? Then you have the various narrative threads, some of which go absolutely nowhere and are never really mentioned again or even given any context in the first place.
Director Moland and screenwriter Frank Baldwin have definitely tried to explore every avenue here and while I think it sort of works, at the same time it doesn’t quite pay off. There are quirky elements as seen in Fargo (both the film and the series) and dark comedy moments reminiscent of something like Seven Psychopaths. But it feels like Moland and Baldwin aren’t fully committed to the humour which gives it the impression that the film doesn’t know whether or not it wants to be funny. That, combined with the vague (veiled) commentary on racism and appropriation of ethnic cultures, it's just a bit all over the place without committing to anything with real gusto.
It’s an odd mix of several genres that goes in every which way but the way in which you expect it to go
There are some brilliant moments though that really standout and these mostly come from Tom Bateman’s, Trevor 'Viking' Calcote, the head of one rival family. Taking a leaf from Patrick Bateman’s handbook from American Psycho, Trevor Calcote is every bit the sharp dressed, eccentric nutcase. And Tom Bateman looks as though he is loving every minute of it going full hog with the character, which really pays off. Oddly though, Neeson’s Nels falls to the background compared to some of the other main characters whose personalities stretch further than being able to punch someone’s face to mush. Drawing the shortest straw, though, is Laura Dern who plays Nels' wife but makes a sharp exit early doors and is never given the opportunity to lavish her role in this dark thriller comedy combo.
It’s an odd mix of several genres that goes in every which way but the way in which you expect it to go. There are some great moments but whether or not that is enough to make this film great, I don’t quite know. Neeson is good but the other characters, when given the chance, stand way out ahead of him. In spite of the many narratives, some of which end just as soon as they begin, Cold Pursuit is for the most part enjoyable and (maybe this isn’t the right word) fun entertainment.
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