There are two questions you’ll be left with after watching Cold Pursuit. Firstly, what could Liam Neeson possibly want to buy that he chose to take on this role? And secondly, did the Director take leave half way through the film?
Cold Pursuit has all the potential to be something somewhat worthy of watching. And for the most part it’s quirky humour and enjoyable scenery holds your attention just long enough for it to be entertaining. But the poor writing and rather bland performances leaves you questioning exactly what was this really all about.
Set in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of the USA is the town of Kehoe. With what looks like an astonishing amount of snow every night and day, snow plough driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) works hard to keep the streets cleared for the locals and tourists in and out of the town. Coxman goes about his business every day without any issue. But then one day his son Kyle (Michael Richardson) is kidnapped and murdered when a drug deal goes horribly wrong.
Devastated by the news of his son’s death, Nels takes matters into his own hands. Starting with the low-level drug dealers, Nels takes them out one by one until he comes face to face with the man who started it all.
You’d be excused for thinking it has a similar resemblance to a number of Neeson’s recent films of the last 10 years of his career. It has a very similar feel to that of the Taken series specifically. But where Cold Pursuit makes it slightly different, is in the comedy.
The camera holds just a little longer on mundane tasks like going up on a lift. Or forcing you to watch people going about their everyday awkward business, like aerobics. It’s in the off the cuff comments you weren’t expecting like a child asking his abductor if he knows what Stockholm Syndrome is. Or in the bizarre and comical way Neeson justifies the way he disposes of dead bodies. The giveaway is in the first few minutes when the wife of Neeson, Grace (Laura Dern) is smoking a joint while she prepares dinner for the family.
Once you realise it’s actually a comedy you start to notice the what’s going on, and then question why. Cold Pursuit seems to want to cater to a very large demographic. On the other hand, if seems as if it doesn’t want to offend just one demographic but all at the same time. They murder an African American, a Native American, an Indian and a gay man just to name the main stereotypes.
It’s almost as if Director Hans Petter Moland had a checklist he was just moving through. Which brings us to what happened to the movie half way through. Molan managed to tick off all his tasks and decided to leave the remainder of the film to someone else to knock off. The film has a particular momentum and style that once you come to terms with that you start to somewhat enjoy it. But that all stops half way through and leaves you enough time to answer some work emails and have a few scrolls of Instagram before a loud noise brings you back to the screen.
It has a particular Tarantino feel to it with a 7 Psychopaths humour splatted every now and then. The action is a bit luck lustre and something that’s come to be expected from a Neeson film. But all the while you’re tantalised by some rather lovely snow-capped mountains and fancy homes and log cabins. What would have gone in Cold Pursuits favour is showing off a bit more of the ski-resort lifestyle to really bring it home why such a shock in the small-town community could make someone do such a thing.
Neeson doesn’t bring anything special to his character. It’s a role he’s played many times before and will probably play many times again. But there’s something comforting about seeing an average family man can take on a drug cartel with barely a scratch.
Overall, this isn’t a bad film. It does take a little while to adjust to before you can start to enjoy it. But Cold Pursuit is nothing new. It doesn’t bring anything new to the world or film or genre by any means. For the most part you’ll ask yourself what is going on and that’s if you haven’t already put your attention to something other than the film. But if you’re up for a laugh and a couple of murders, then Cold Pursuit is your film. Otherwise, you’ll be fine in the comfort that you’ve already seen this movie many times before.
Review by Jay Cook