Cold Pursuit (2019)
Director: Hans Petter Moland | Runtime: 1h 59mins | Action, Crime, Drama
Just after receiving Kehoe, Colorado’s Citizen of the Year award, Snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is informed of his son’s death. When his son’s friend comes to him as a bloody mess, Nels sets out to discover who was responsible for the death, sparking a drug war in the process.
Liam Neeson’s second coming as an action star really began with Taken (2008) and has since sparked numerous successful, albeit underwhelming, films with the similar high-concept approach of Neeson vs. the world. On paper, Cold Pursuit follows a similar trajectory but it’s Moland’s angle that separates this one from the pack, giving Neeson a chance to lay back and let other stories do the leg work, and try to harness the dark sense of humour that the script demands. If there’s anything to make this film feel uninspired, it’s the lack of distance from it’s original, which happens to also be Moland’s film, In Order of Disappearance (2013).
There isn’t anything particularly wrong with following the same story though, and swapping the harsh nordic cold for the much lighter inhabitance of a diverse Colorado actually plays in the films comedic favour, as the territorial war between Tom Bateman’s ‘Viking’ and Tom Jackson’s ‘Whitebull’, which plays on the familiar ongoing dispute between Native Americans and those that colonised, gives us overtly gruesome action and dimwitted one-liners to really hit home the idiocy of the antagonists. However, despite Cold Pursuit being funnier, and Moland learning from minor mistakes, it still can’t overlook the biggest problems that plagued the original.
The biggest criticisms come from a lot of character motivational flaws, one in particular is Laura Dern’s grieving wife and mother, who is set up as a Coxman’s shining light in his already comfortable existence. As her grief becomes too much, she departs the film around about when the Neeson kill count reaches two. While grief has always been a wonderful fuel for character, her grief isn’t the spark Coxman needs to start his vengeance, nor is it a catalyst for him to stop. It comes and goes quickly and leaves zero impact on the film, and unfortunately, along with an extremely forced relationship between two henchmen, spoils the films flow completely.
As a Neeson action film it’s far better than a lot of films out there, but Cold Pursuit is much less about it’s main man and belongs as a Hans Petter Moland film, who’s bleak Norwegian style seeps through tremendously and adds much more humour than you’d expect. Unfortunately though, it can’t quite shake the plot downfalls of it’s original model, which leaves it flawed.