COLD PURSUIT Review: 8 out of 10 (Dark, Fun, and Frosty)
COLD PURSUIT is the latest revenge action film directed by Hans Petter Moland (in his Hollywood debut) from a screenplay by Frank Baldwin. It stars Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, and Tom Bateman. It is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian film IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, also directed by Moland. The film follows a snowplow driver Nelson Coxman (Neeson) who sets out for revenge on a local drug lord (Bateman) following the murder of his son. Having watched the original film on Netflix, I wasn’t sure how well it would translate to the American audience. The dark humor of the original might work overseas, but would the American version dumb itself down with typical action film one-liners and over the top exploitative sequences?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is COLD PURSUIT actually offers greater levels of entertainment and originality for maintaining the darker humor of the original film. The plot itself is pretty stock stuff. A man’s son is murdered for getting mixed up with the “wrong type of people” and causes the ordinarily normal and quiet everyman to exact revenge on the baddies. But Coxman doesn’t have any special set of skills here. He isn’t a former Green Beret or Special Ops agent who now drives a snowplow. No…he is just a guy who drives a snowplow. But for a guy who does the same thing day after day after day—it makes for a man who is quietly relentless. He finds those connected to his son’s death and kills them. This dynamic actually makes the film more compelling in many ways. Add in Tom Bateman as “Viking” the drug lord in a truly unusual but scene stealing performance. Part nutritionist, part slimeball…add in several doses of smarmy and a few dashes of sadism and you have Viking—a guy who lectures his hit squad while serving juice smoothies. Bateman creates a truly hateful character that makes for fun but dark edge to the film. Viking doesn’t understand why his men are disappearing, but immediately blames the Native American rival drug kingpin. When the turf war starts, the film really begins to become a lot of fun. Add in one of the best character actors in Hollywood in Bill Forsythe as Coxman’s brother and reformed criminal. His connections to the underworld help his brother exact his revenge.
COLD PURSUIT brings a vibe that is humorous without being jokesy—dark enough for a pulpy action film but with just enough irreverence to have fun. The film is self-aware enough to take an also-ran plot and invest in some characters that are a lot of fun to watch. Neeson’s somberness against Bateman’s wackiness brings a balance to the film and keeps it from being a forgettable action revenge flick. Instead, COLD PURSUIT is quite original in its tone and style. Recommended.