Cold Pursuit (2019)
Directed by: Hans Petter Moland
Written by: Frank Baldwin
Starring: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman & Laura Dern
It’s a shame that Cold Pursuit. the latest revenge flick starring Liam Neeson, has been clouded by the controversy surrounding Neesom’s comments on a press juncket for the above mentioned film. It would appear that some reviews, and cinema goers that have seen the film may have been swayed by his comments, and to be fair it’s easy to understand why. However, if possible, you need to look at the film itself, and not the media surrounding it, and if you can do that, you might see that there’s a whole lot to enjoy here.
A remake of his own original movie, director Hans Petter Moland delivers pretty much the same treatment here as the original Norwegian piece. Neeson plays snow plow driver Nelson Coxman, who makes sure the roads are clear for visitors to get to Tahoe, a town reinvented as a resort, and doing quite well, thank you very much. The laid back town is everything ski enthusiasts could want, and Coxman is a quiet, underplayed local hero, that keeps everything ticking over for the community, it’s business and it’s visitors. Tragedy isn’t far away though, and when his son is murdered by local ruthless dealers, it’s time for Neeson to do what he does best.
The film at surface level seems the usual well worn path, however, there’s a river of black humour that runs straight through the heart of this screenplay that lifts everything to a different level. Stylish and competent, the director has a very dark comedic beat that punctuates every scene, as Liam cuts through the snow in the town, while cutting another route through the other white substance that is at the heart of the evil that sets things in motion. Every violent death is highlighted by the name of the deceased character in a caption, and even the end credits are listed “In Order Of Disappearance”, which is the original title of the first film.
As Liam’s character hits his cold stride, elimination his way to the top of the tree, events become more and more involved. We witness the deals behind the drug gangs starting to escalate to ridiculous levels, as characters cross, and double cross each other, all thinking each other is the mastermind behind the latest disruption in their drug dealing business. Drug lord The Viking, played with Joker like relish by Tom Bateman, gives a masterclass in slimy evil nastiness, and this only adds to the comedy of his situation.
He is perfectly cast as the main player in Tahoe’s drug problem, but the script is clever enough to give him an ex wife, a genius son and a cast of hench men, that all somehow seem fleshed out, despite the large supporting roles involved.
There will no doubt be many that assume the film is a Fargo look alike, but this is more to do with location, rather than plot, and speaking of locations, everything here looks amazing. The mountain range that looms over Tahoe, resplendent, like a huge wall of snow, towers over everything in shot, mirroring the shadow of drug dealing madness that The Viking has over the town. The walls of snow and ice that Coxman has to literally cut a road through in his trusty plow, is a lesson to us in the UK, a country that seems to shut down at the merest flurry of snow, proving there are ways of coping with bad weather, should we choose to embrace them.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable comedy thriller, with a great cast, great direction and a black comedic charm that raises it above other similar affairs.