Movie Review: ‘COLD PURSUIT’ a cold tale of revenge that is warmly entertaining


Travis Leamons // Film Critic


Rated R, 119 minutes.
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Liam NeesonLaura DernMicheál Richardson, Michael Eklund, Bradley Stryker, Wesley MacInnes, Tom Bateman, Emmy Rossum and William Forsythe

Something funny happened a little more than a decade ago to Liam Neeson. The actor known for his title roles in SCHINDLER’S LIST, ROB ROY, and MICHAEL COLLINS suddenly became an action-thriller star with the success of TAKEN. His latest thrill ride, COLD PURSUIT, looks to be another standard revenge tale involving a snowplow driver, Nels Coxman (Neeson), tracking down the drug kingpin and his associates responsible for killing his son. With each murderous act, Nels works his way up the villain hierarchy. Along the way, however, Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland offers dark humor and interludes to ensure that this cold tale of revenge is warmly and oddly entertaining.

But a sense of déjà vu hangs over the picture since Moland adapts his original Norwegian film, IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, for English-speaking audiences. Before the feature started, I jokingly remarked that Neeson would dispatch his victims in the same order of appearance as IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE. I wasn’t wrong – Nels does just that. Whenever a character dies an inter-title pops up featuring the person’s real name, gangster nickname, and a cross. This happens quite a bit.

Though Liam Neeson is the star for a sizable portion of the second act, he is missing. In his absence are a pair of local officers working the murders being committed; the introduction of a rival, Native American drug operation (which leads to a turf war); and the lead villain “Viking” (Tom Bateman) handling his underlings and parenting his son as if William Golding’s THE LORD OF THE FLIES was the go-to manual, not Dr. Spock’s THE COMMON SENSE BOOK OF BABY AND CHILD CARE.

Interrupting the proceedings by allocating time for bad guys to talk about fantasy football and motel tricks involving a maid and a twenty-dollar bill, you would think they once ate at the same diner as the “Misters” in Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS. The moments are funny, sometimes distracting, with only a few jokes hitting their intended target – unlike Neeson and his murderous methods, which always leave a mark.

This is said to be Irish actor’s last hurrah as a grizzled action hero. Nels is an uncompromising, industrious individual in line with the other characters Neeson has played. Nels also allows him to come full circle with his on-camera journey as an aging bad-ass. Only instead of getting angry on the phone with a bad guy that kidnapped his daughter (TAKEN), he calls Viking and lets him know he has his son.

If you already seen IN THE ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, then you’ve already seen COLD PURSUIT. Fans of Liam Neeson in kick-ass mode will get what they want with some added gallows humor to liven the mood and the murders.

Grade: B-

COLD PURSUIT is now playing.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.