Liam Neeson returns to the big screen with yet another tale of vengeance, but this time it feels fresh under the direction of Hans Petter Moland.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a quiet hard working snowplough driver in a skiing resort town. When his son is found dead from a heroin overdose, Nels is convinced its foul play, and he soon learns that his son was murdered by the drug cartel. A manhunt begins as Nels tracks down members of the cartel in the pursuit of the cartel boss, ‘Viking’ (Tom Bateman). All hell breaks loose as more and more members of the cartel go missing, prompting the cartel to launch their own attack.
Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Cold Pursuit is a challenging film for director Hans Petter Moland to take on as it has the potential to be labelled as yet another Taken rip-off. Thankfully, Petter Molland manages to take an overused storyline and add enough quirk to it, making it feel fresh and new. Having directed 2016’s chilling thriller, A Conspiracy of Faith, Petter Moland can certainly handle heavy material and isolated environments, however it’s the injection of black humour and awkward moments that makes Cold Pursuit enjoyable and unique.
It feels like we’re finally getting Neeson back. He was great in last year’s Widows, and it seems he may be finally moving away from the same old crap he’s been doing since Taken (Taken 2, Taken 3, The Commuter and Non-Stop to name a few). While the role isn’t inherently different, Neeson appears more relaxed and at ease in his role in this film. He gives Nels an unforgiving ruthlessness, driven by his grief from losing his son and his duty to society. There’s a certain tragedy to his character that leaves you to wonder whether if his hunt for the Viking is going to bring him any peace in the end.
Neeson is supported by a strong cast who each deiver a unique take on familiar characters. Bateman’s turn as the control freak, overprotective-on-the-verge-of-abusive father and mob boss Viking, brings forth both a comical element when things don’t go his way, but interestingly an even more sadistic element in his pursuit of ensuring his son can reach his full potential (the child is about ten years old by the way). But its Domenick Lombardozzi’s turn as Viking’s right hand man Mustang that takes on a compelling turn as being a closeted gay. Mustang is the yin to the Viking’s yang, and helps to balance the two polar extremes of the characters.
Unfortunately the film does have a small problem of trying to balance too many supporting characters, so the interesting ones like Viking and Mustang can’t be explored to the depths that they need to be. There’s also a host of surprisingly good actors such as Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum and John Doman who play less than significant characters who don’t really bring anything to the overall film, which is disappointing.
The film is an interesting choice for Neeson, but one I’m grateful he pursued. Cold Pursuit is a surprising delight for those who enjoy a bit of Neeson and a bit of dark humour.
Cold Pursuit is available in Australian cinemas from February 7
Image courtesy of StudioCanal