Movie Review: ‘Cold Pursuit’
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, William Forsythe, Julia Jones, Monenick Lombardozzi, Tom Jackson
Plot: A grizzled and stoic snow plow driver sets out for revenge after his son is murdered by a local drug lord. In doing so he causes wider chaos among organised crime families.
Review: This movie is the latest example of one of Hollywood’s more perplexing habits, that being remakes of foreign language film whose sole purpose is to show it without subtitles. In this case they recruited the original director Moland to make the same movie he made a few years ago but in English. If you’re going to remake a movie, at least get another director on board. Then we get two takes on the material.
Oh, and they changed the name to something far less interesting. In Order of Disappearance is a fantastic title, Cold Pursuit sounds like a straight to video actioner starring Steven Seagal.
The movie opens with Nels Coxman (Neeson), renamed from the original’s Nils Dickman, exchanging two lines with his son before they go their seperate ways. His son is then abducted and murdered by gangsters with his demise being disguised as a drug overdose. Coxman refuses to believe this story and sets out on a path of revenge. His actions quickly draw the attention of drug lord ‘Viking” (Bateman), his rival gang lead by White Bull (Jackson), police officer Dash (Rossum) and others. Things quickly descend into a violent mess.
A recurring problem with most mainstream offerings this past year or two is the lack of a clear tone. After seeing the different trailers we weren’t sure what to expect from the movie. Is it a black comedy, a farce or a revenge thriller? Maybe a combination of the three, similar to what the Coen Brothers have done in the past. Having watched the movie I’m still not sure what the intended tone was.
The film needs to lean more into the one tone or the other because when instances of black humour do come up they feel awkward. Things remain pretty dry during the first act where the main characters are set up, so when we have to wait painfully long for the morgue technician to raise the gurney holding the body up to waist height we’re not sure how we’re supposed to respond. The comedy isn’t consistent enough for it to be anything but out of place.
We also have problems with the pacing when switching between characters. Initially it looks like we’re sticking with Coxman throughout the film, but we start jarringly cutting back and forth to Viking’s family life, and then we throw in the cops who ultimately don’t impact on the film, then the rival gang and everything starts to feel like it’s meandering towards the finale instead of escalating towards it. It feels like a mishandled version of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which was similarly structure but better handled.
The individual elements of the movie are actually solid. The cast is strong and entertaining, especially Liam Neeson wearing a very familiar pair of shoes. The setting looks very pretty and all the houses of the characters are super cool. The central premise of characters being introduced and killed off generates a couple of good laughs, especially with the use of title cards marking each person’s death between scenes.
Maybe I’m missing something with this, but it didn’t have a strong impact. It feels like it missed the mark. I will be checking out the original in a week or so though, mostly because I like the title.
Rating: FIVE out of TEN