Cold Pursuit is a new film directed by Hans Petter Moland, a remake of his own Norwegian movie In Order of Disappearance. The film stars Liam Neeson as a snowplow driver who sets out on a warpath to kill the drug dealers he believes to have murdered his son. This isn’t just another Liam Neeson action movie, though, as it has a strong edge of humor to it as well.
The core story of the movie is pretty simple — a man is seeking to avenge his dead son — but the way in which it is handled is endlessly entertaining and intriguing. What started out as just a murder spree (just a few murders, nothing that big at all) turns into an all-out war by the end of the film, and the progression from point A to point B is crazy.
A big part of what makes the movie so successful is the characterization of the protagonist. Over the course of the film, you are able to see how he grows and changes to become much more rounded than the average Neeson tough guy. The supporting characters, on the other hand, aren’t as interesting. For example, Neeson’s wife, played by Laura Dern, isn’t given nearly enough to do in the movie.
The best part of this movie, hands down, is its wickedly dark sense of humor. If you don’t have an appreciation of pitch black comedy, you likely won’t find this to be funny, and then may find it to be boring. That being said, there are quite a few moments in the film that are laugh-out-loud funny, whether because of witty dialogue or the shocking situations presented in the movie.
The pacing is absolutely great. After the film gets rolling, it jumps from scene to scene with ease, keeping both the comedy and the action going. The action is definitely impressive, although it is pretty brief when compared to some of the other Neeson-starring flicks. This film is less about flashy and intricately choreographed action and more about gritty violence, and it benefits from that feel.
This has to be Liam Neeson’s best starring action role yet. In some of his more recent outings, like The Commuter, it seemed like he had fallen out of it and was no longer enjoying what he did. That was not the case with this movie, as Neeson had the charm and swagger that he had been missing in the others. Tom Bateman plays the primary antagonist in the film, and he does a great job being a fun and over-the-top villain.
On a technical level, the movie is pretty impressive too. The cinematography and editing are really solid. The film makes great use of visual motifs, like Neeson’s character rolling corpses in chicken wire, for comedic effect. The filmmakers also show an extraordinary sense of timing, allowing scenes to play on for a couple of seconds longer than they traditionally would before cutting to black, eliciting some great laughs in the process.
Overall, Cold Pursuit was a surprisingly refreshing and enjoyable movie. If you are a fan of dark comedy, this is one you absolutely won’t want to miss, as it is a joy to watch from beginning to end.
Cold Pursuit is now playing in theaters.