Cold Pursuit15¦ 4K, Blu-ray, DVD
The revenge thriller. If anyone has made this sub-genre their very own in recent years, it’s Liam Neeson. 2008’s Taken single-handedly re-invented this Irish actor in his mid fifties as an action hero, serving cold dishes of revenge, left, right and centre.
He’s back, serving an even chillier dish than normal, in his latest action thriller.
Up in the remote skiing resort of Kehole, Colorado, is Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson). Despite being somewhat of an introvert, he’s just been voted Citizen of the Year for his services as a snow plower.
It’s a great award, but he’s just happy being a regular family man, with his wife Grace (Laura Dern) and son Kyle (Micheál Richardson), serving his community on his own, in the middle of nowhere.
His world turns upside down however, when his son gets mixed up with a drug cartel and ends up paying the ultimate price. Although devastated by this news, Nels isn’t convinced with the verdict that his son died from a drug overdose, considering that, as far as he was concerned, he never took drugs in his life.
His doubts are confirmed when he encounters someone who was with Kyle in his final moments, who explained what really happened, and who was behind his death.
It transpires it was a number of bad men, and Nels is keen to meet up with them all, one by one, exacting his revenge on them all.
It would be no surprise if you had a strong sense of déjà vu regarding the premise. Let’s face it, it’s pretty much been Neeson’s acting M.O for the last ten years.
There is a difference here however, in its execution – or should that be plural, as there are plenty of them here.
Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland has remade his own 2014 film Kraftidoten for the English speaking market. However, his remake is a fine example of lost in translation. Although described as a black comedy, the truth is it’s probably more grey; you can see what Moland was aiming for, but every element of his script is off a beat or two. The humorous elements just don’t work, with possibly the only the final scene barely working, which is leaving it all a bit too late.
He also makes the film far busier than need be, with too many unnecessary storylines, like the police duo who stumble into the plot, for example.
There’s a few casting issues too. Neeson does what’s expected of him – although with everything else going on, he doesn’t enjoy that much screen time – so he’s not a problem. Brit Tom Bateman is, however. He struggles to make any kind of impact as cartel boss Viking, and is woefully miscast, lacking any sense of real authority or dastardliness about him.
It’s a shame as Moland’s intentions are there for all to see. He wanted this English version to be a cross between a sharp-witted Martin McDonagh script, littered with Coen brothers-style characters. It doesn’t just fall short of those estimations, but all of them.
Even the violence, of which there is a lot, is disappointingly watered down, making it feel almost family friendly.
What was clearly needed was a script written with sharp wit and dark humour. This may well be visually suitably chilly, but overall, it’s an experience that will well and truly leave you cold.