Cold Pursuit - 2019
Director(s): Hans Petter Moland
Writer(s): Frank Baldwin (screenplay) / Kim Fupz Aakeson (original film, 'Kraftidioten')
Cinematography by: Philip Øgaard
Editor(s): Nicolaj Monberg
Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Tom Bateman, Domenick Lombardozzi, Emmy Rossum, Julia Jones, William Forsythe and Tom Jackson
Hans Petter Moland is pulling a Michael Haneke (Funny Games) as he is remaking his Norwegian film, Kraftidioten for American audiences. Replacing Stellan Skarsgård with Liam Neeson as the lead, and placing it in the mountains of Colorado. And I know you see Neeson as the lead, and you immediately think; "another one of this?" But thanks to the tone, it plays like a dark comedy setting it apart from his previous films. Let's talk about it.
The story takes place in the Rocky Mountains resort town, Kehoe. Nelson Coxman (Neeson) is an introvert snowplow driver that was just awarded "Citizen of the Year" by his town. His world is turned upside down when his son is found dead from an overdose. When Coxman finds out, it wasn't an overdose, but a hit by a drug cartel, he becomes obsessed with exacting revenge on the ringleader known a Viking (Bateman). This film was weird. Well, yeah it's weird because it's a dark comedy, but I'm not talking about that weird. It's weird because at times it feels like the perfect satire of the unlikely career of Neeson as an action star and at times it feels like the best example of what made him a great action star. This makes the casting of Neeson perfect for this role, even though I still want to see what Stellan did with this role.
Quick note: the comedic tone is uneven, as some actors strive in this tone better than others, making them stand out like sore thumbs.
The story is straightforward; a boy gets mixed up with the wrong crowd and ends up dead - dad goes out and gets revenge. But it takes a detour when they add the rival drug cartel comprised of Native Americans. The Viking automatically assumes they are involved in the recent disappearances of his crew and kills the son of the leader of the cartel (Jackson). I get that they were going for a dual story of fathers seeking revenge, with social commentary of how America has treated the Native Americans, but I found myself wanting to go back to Neeson's arc. The film starts so strong, and when Neeson is making his way through the ranks it is genuinely a blast, but when they shift to this rival gang the film comes to a halt — making the second act of the film drag substantially when compared to the first and the third.
Moland shines with the action of the story. The violence is not gratuitous, but it doesn't shy away from the gore. The first couple of kills by Neeson are shot exceptionally well, with the "Santa" death being my favorite, and probably the funniest. The score and the editing help to maintain the comedic tone, even when the actors aren't up to the script's standards.
Cold Pursuit is a good film overall, but one that leaves you frustrated in the end. It could have been a great film and one that bookmarks Neeson's action career perfectly - yet there are so many decisions made that leave you scratching your head, that bring down your enjoyment substantially. But if you are in the mood for some irreverent laughs, and solid action, you could do far worse than giving this film a chance. John Albert Elway Jr. is why I love movies.
Cold Pursuit is a Streamer!
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