One is tired of watching Ulsterman Liam Neeson’s many “revenge” films. However, with Cold Pursuit, the actor enters fresh territory.
Norwegian film director Hans Petter Moland’s production is a hard-hitting action story awash with cold, black humour and dozens of dead bodies. Many of the scenes are played out with an undercurrent of humour that echoes Fargo and Quentin Tarantino.
The 66-year-old Neeson plays a character named Nels Coxman who lives in a small, snowbound town of Kehoe. Coxman’s job, and one he’s very proud of, is a snow-plow driver clearing the roads of snow.
He is a contented family man whose quiet existence with his wife (Laura Dern) is suddenly upended after the mysterious death of their son from a drug overdose.
Things do not add up and Coxman undertakes a search for justice which turns into a vengeful hunt for a vicious character named Viking, played by Tom Bateman; a drug lord whom he believes is connected to the death.
As each of Viking’s associates begin to “disappear”, Coxman goes from an upstanding citizen to an ice-cold vigilante, letting nothing – and no one – stand in his way.
Cold Pursuit, which Moland adapted from his own 2014 film In Order of Disappearance, suffers a few structural challenges. Too many peripheral sub-plots emerge which go nowhere and two of the characters – police officers John Gipsky (John Doman) and Kim Dash (Emmy Rossum) – serve little purpose beyond providing amusing banter and tossing around bits of exposition.
When the Neeson character steps away from the action for a while, the story then focuses on a gang war between Viking and the native American brothers of White Bull (Tom Jackson). Although that rivalry is important to the resolution, its incorporation is clumsily introduced.
Meanwhile, Neeson has said that this is his last action role, an assertion he may have unintentionally enforced by making controversial statements in a pre-release interview for this film.
Cast: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, William Forsyth, Tom Jackson
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Classification: 16 LVD