By Troy Ribeiro
Film: “Cold Pursuit”; Director: Hans Petter Moland; Cast: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, Laura Dern; Rating: **1/2
Starring Liam Neeson in the lead as Nels Coxman, an unassuming, snowplough driver living on the outskirts of the Rocky Mountain ski town of Kehoe, a fictional town about three and a quarter miles from Denver, the film begins with giving an insight into his house which he shares with his wife Grace (Laura Dern) and his son Kyle (Micheal Richardson).
Then not getting into specifics, when Kyle, an airport worker, is kidnapped and killed by drug dealers, the senior Coxmans’ marriage falls apart. Nels is forced to investigate his son’s murder and he goes on a killing spree to find the crime lord who killed his son.
If you have been following Liam Neeson’s filmography, you’d realise that this film is no different from his previous films. Only that it slowly dawns upon you that “Cold Pursuit” wants to be a bloody comedy-of-errors with eccentric characters and a nasty sense of humour.
The criminals all have nutty names like Speedo, Limbo, Santa, Baby Hawk, Eskimo, Bone and whenever one dies, his name appears on the black screen with a symbolic little crucifix.
By the time Nels gets closer to his target, we are actually invested in the characters. The small town police too do their bit of solving the sudden string of crimes. Midway through, the narrative suddenly gets propelled by an ensemble of American-Indian criminals who complicate the plot but work in advantage for Nels.
Given his wounded-heart father routine which he perfected since “Taken”, Neeson seems to be walking through his character nonchalantly. He hardly makes an effort to come out of his comfort zone and that’s why the film loses its sheen.
The brilliance of “Cold Pursuit” lies largely in its supporting cast who play the oddballs against the ramrod straight Nels. Tom Bateman shines as the suave and dashing drug kingpin Viking. As a father he is exactly opposite of Nels – a cold and calculating control freak who leans towards absurdity yet maintaining a shred of realism.
Domenick Lombardozzi brings a real nuance to the role of one of Viking’s assistants, Mustang. And, Tom Jackson offers another shade of fatherhood as White Bull, a Native American drug rival of Viking seeking revenge for his own son.
Director Hans Petter Moland’s “Cold Pursuit” is a remake of his Norwegian revenge drama, “In Order of Disappearance”, which was released in 2014. And it sticks to its original snowy setting and free flowing bloodshed. But then given Neeson’s filmography, this film appears as another generic Neeson-esque drama.