Cold Pursuit - Review

Death, loyalty, and stupidity are on blast for Hans Petter Moland’s Cold Pursuit, one of the most perplexing films of the still-young year.

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A remake of his own film, Hans Petter Moland’s Cold Pursuit is a strange yet familiar case of misplaced intentions. There’s an undeniable energy to the visceral and action-packed script, which fits over a dozen characters into the spotlight, but it can’t decide who the movie is for. Is it a stylistic, bloody thriller, a Liam Neeson action-snooze, or a sprawling crime epic? Admirably, Cold Pursuit attempts all this and more, but neglects its most compelling characters to do it.

The story centers around Nels Coxman, played by Liam Neeson with the brooding fury he’s made his M.O. in the last few Takens. A mild-mannered citizen discovers his son has been murdered by a drug cartel, sending him into a fury of snow-plow driven rage that involves the brutal killing of three henchmen. This is where the film succeeds, through an established and well-oiled formula. Neeson is far from the top of his game, but there is still some value left in seeing him take down an organization one-by-one. When Cold Pursuit starts dipping into mobster territory, things get a lot rockier. For one, Tom Bateman’s “Viking”, an eccentric and overbearing douchebag, is one of the most off-kilter characters I’ve ever seen, in any movie. Dripping at the chance to discipline his son in one scene, patient and ready to comply with others in the next, he’s a tonal Magic 8 ball. It’s partly due to Bateman’s overzealous acting, but as with much of Cold Pursuit, the writing is what condemns. I’m not sure if the writers tried too hard to Americanize the film, or if the process was simply rushed. Either way, it’s a mess.

There are elements of dark comedy in Cold Pursuit, like the showing of each character’s name and religion upon death, and while it keeps the pace frenetic, there is little else to the stylistic choices. Side plots are thrown in just for giggles, and are delivered beyond poorly by the cast. One moment in particular sees one of Viking’s hitmen discussing a prank he pulls on Motel housekeepers: he gets naked as he hears the cart approach, places a 20 over his crotch, and waits for them to come in. Either they shut the door and run, or, sometimes, they stay. It’s a ludicrous story, and one that ultimately ends in us finding out pervy hitman’s full name and religion, but a finely written one nonetheless. In delivery, the scene in stilted, and the actors play it up with the subtlety of a Riverdale alum. It aims to bring lightness, but like the majority of the supporting cast, it only brings the story to a halt. Cold Pursuit lives for its Tarantino-esque killings, but like most who attempt to copy it, the result is a pale imitation, lacking the genuine humor and victories of Pulp Fiction or Inglorious Bastards.