In this film, director Hans Petter Moland has remade his original film called ‘In Order of Disappearance’ that starred Stellan Skarsgård for the American audience. Since I liked this film but found Liam Neeson’s ability to carry the role a bit difficult to accept, I’ll be seeing if the original were something American audiences needed to discover sooner. If you like your action mixed with comedy this will satiate the pallet. The action is good, and the comedy is dark. My point about Neeson is that if you were curious about and or looking for the sign that it’s time for Liam Neeson to call it quits on the tough guy roles, look no further than his performance in ‘Cold Pursuit,’ or as I thought of the movie the entire time I was watching it, a strangely comedic take on ‘Taken.’ I’m sorry but it has to be said. No longer can he be taken that seriously as a badass fighter or even as menacing. As Nels in ‘Cold Pursuit,’ Neeson looks weak and thin and seems in no way capable of physically pulling off what is asked of him… nor is it explained where he would have procured his ‘particular set of skills.’
To be fair, ‘Cold Pursuit’ has an interest in meeting more than just the expectation of the ‘Taken’ fans. With the humorous elements woven through the script, it speaks to Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri) and even Guy Ritchie (Snatch) devotees, as well. That said, you absolutely do not want to miss the dark comedy here for which the film is loaded. Neeson was hard to swallow but Nels does have a reason for being ruthless which is the murder of his son, Kyle. In case you come across this question in a trivia game someday, Kyle is played by his real-life son, Micheál Richardson.
Nels is an ordinary, everyday family man who owns his own snow plowing business. He resides high in the bitter cold of the resort town of Kehoe, Colorado where he clears the roads for those traveler’s brave enough to chance the trip to ski in the demanding weather. I must mention that the cinematography is breathtaking. Nels has a cabin outside of the tourist trap with his wife Grace (Dern). Grace isn’t in the picture long. She’s distraught and… outta here. When they find out he was killed, Nels vows to hunt the killers down and wreak havoc upon them. This leads to my biggest beef with the film which is Tom Bateman as drug lord Trevor ‘Viking’ Calcote. He the man who Nels hunts but is not at all a convincing bad guy. And not because he’s a vegan! Bateman does look like a weasel in the film which works in his favor to a degree. And I know the bully, or the alpha, is usually the weak one but this is another casting choice I would have reconsidered. The performance wasn’t strong enough to convince me he wouldn’t turn tail and run at the slightest inclination there might be some sort of confrontation, let alone lead others to do anything malicious. His ten-year-old son Ryan (Nicholas Holmes) is a far more interesting character. And I sincerely mean that.
In a brilliant turn of events, Viking draws the attention of the Native American elder White Bull (Tom Jackson), who’s the head of his own gang. A turf war starts. This is the last thing our gangster wannabe needs. Nels and Natives? Now it’s getting good. Members of these rival gangs start dropping like flies.
William Forsythe enters the picture and you finally accept that this might be where Nels received some of his skills. Anyway, Forsythe always adds to a film, an asset no matter how he’s used and playing brother to Nels, he helps the story immeasurably. There are two local cops played by Emma Rossum and John Doman who do the same. By the end, justice is served, and you’ll walk away having enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Parts are unbelievable, yes, but what about going to a movie isn’t fantasy? You’ll like the scenery, the score, the characters, and the vengeance. You’ll begin to see the bigger picture playing out and how insane it’s all becoming. And just maybe, you won’t be ready to say to Neeson’s agent that it’s time he hangs up his punching bags. There still might be a few more action pictures left in him? I’ll leave that to you to decide.