The basic narrative thrust of Cold Pursuit is as Liam Neeson as they come – the son of a snowplow
driver is killed by a drug dealer, so the snowplow driver heads off on a path
of revenge to take out the dealers. Pretty basic stuff, right? Well, under the guidance
of director Hans Petter Moland (remaking his own 2014 Norwegian film, In Order of Disappearance), Cold Pursuit is a truly bonkers film
that embraces an eccentric pitch black comedy streak with a fair dose of over
the top violence.
To get an idea of how warm the embrace of comedy is within Cold Pursuit, one needs to look at the
way the credits roll. Instead of your usual credits roll, the entire cast list
is presented on screen, with their names blowing away ‘In Order of Disappearance’.
It’s slyly hilarious, and a perfect way to wrap up a film that has every death
presented with the characters name and a culturally specific totem.
But, the comedy aspect of Cold Pursuit isn’t entirely obvious, as Moland knows to take his time
and ease you into the groove he’s working in. After the death of Liam Neeson’s
son (Neeson’s character does have a name, but really, he’s just playing Liam
Neeson, ok?), there’s a sadness that washes over the film. That sadness
dissipates slowly, making way for a pitch black comedy about warring drug
cartels in the middle of snow drenched Denver.
And what comedy! While Liam Neeson fronts the poster of Cold Pursuit, it’s quite impressive how
quickly his narrative thread becomes its own b-plot, as the pseudo-business man
like Trevor (Tom Bateman) becomes an increasing threat, in turn, staking a
claim for the entire movie. Tom Bateman delivers one of the most eccentric,
energetic, and on point comedic performances in years. Every scene has him
chewing the scenery with verve and enthusiasm, so much so that his performance amplifies
the subdued performances of his henchmen (of note is Domenick Lombardozzi’s
Opposing Bateman’s Trevor is Tom Jackson’s White Bull. His
band of American Indian’s run their own drug cartel, and as the body count from
Neeson’s snowplow driver, and in turn, Trevor’s henchmen, escalates, well,
White Bull’s men have no choice but to get involved. Their presence leads to
one of the most joyous moments in film this year, which I daren’t spoil it as
it’s simply one of the most hilarious scenes that comes out of the blue.
On the edges of this out-and-out carnage attack are performances
from Emmy Rossum as a new police officer, and Laura Dern as the snowplow driver’s
wife. Dern up and leaves early on. Emmy Rossum is always a nice presence on
screen, giving a solid performance with minimal material, but it’d be nice if
she were given just a touch more screen time here.
Cold Pursuit attempts
to add in a minor thematic thread about respecting your past and your culture,
while also acknowledging the new path that is being forged by changing society.
But, really, it’s such a minor element that it’s not entirely worthwhile exploring.
After all, you’re sitting in the cinema to watch an entertaining film about a
snowplow driver who takes revenge on those who killed his son. The mere fact
you get a heck of a lot more of that, and possibly the finest comedic punchline
ending in a film this year, is enough to ensure that Cold Pursuit is most definitely a film you need to seek out.
Director: Hans Petter Moland Cast: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson Writer: Frank Baldwin, (based on the movie Kraftidioten by Kim Fupz Aakeson)
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